Revisiting Noma – the reinventor of Nordic Cuisine

Four-time renowned “the world’s best restaurant” and the reinventor of Nordic Cuisine. Noma in Copenhagen has reopened in version 2.0 after being closed for nearly a year. We bring you the story of Noma – from provocateur to world famous.

The new Noma version 2.0 has reopened in 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The brand new buildings are designed by architect Bjarke Ingels and partially inspired by the classic typical Danish farm. The layout consists of several smaller buildings – each with its unique purpose – and thus the nickname of the place is “the village”.

Revisiting NOMA – the reinventor of Nordic Cuisine
Photographer: Jason Loucas

The menu version 2.0

The restaurant accommodates 40 guests a day and the menu is still true to the original concept of using local ingredients in season. The menu is expected to change three times a year: the first focuses on the ocean and seafood, in the summer the menu focuses on plants and vegetables and in the fall and winter, a game and forest theme takes over.

Revisiting NOMA – the reinventor of Nordic Cuisine
Stuffed Queen clams from Northern Norway with its own roe and a blackcurrant wood fudge Photographer: Jason Loucas

How it all began

The name “Noma” is a portmanteau of the two Danish words “nordisk” (Nordic) and “mad” (food). Noma first opened in 2003 with Danish tv-chef and entrepreneur Claus Meyer and René Redzepi as partners. It was actually Meyer’s idea that the restaurant should be inspired, rather than restricted, by the limited produce in the Nordic countries. In his search for an appropriate Head Chef, he first approached English Chef Paul Cunningham, but he declined. Instead, he suggested a short list of candidates which included Redzepi – at that time a 25 year old Sous Chef with experience from, among others, El Bulli in Spain. After only two years, Noma earned it’s first Michelin star.

Revisiting NOMA – the reinventor of Nordic Cuisine
René Redzepi. Photographer: Jason Loucas

The philosophy of “new Nordic”

The Noma philosophy is based on local produce unique for the Nordic area. They are also known for creating provocative and humoristic dishes with surprising ingredients, beautiful elements and new flavors. Among the most crazy dishes and ingredients we find ants, “dirt” made of malt, edible branches and live prawns.

Revisiting NOMA – the reinventor of Nordic Cuisine
Salad with sea snail from the Faroe Islands with last year’s roses. Side serving of sea snail roe with kelp butter. Photographer: Jason Loucas

The battle for 1st place

Noma in Copenhagen was ranked “world’s best restaurant” in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 and earned two Michelin stars. It was here that the Nordic Cuisine was reinvented and interpreted by chef René Redzepi, a man who has earned rockstar status among both food critics and foodies.

In 2010, Noma stole the crown as “World’s best restaurant” from El Bulli. The Spanish restaurant with chef Ferran Adria held the title for four consecutive years. The year after, El Bulli withdrew from the competition and closed permanently. Noma continued to dominate the world food scene but without having earned a third Michelin star.

Revisiting NOMA – the reinventor of Nordic Cuisine
Photographer: Jason Loucas

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On tour searching for new inspiration

In 2013, Noma was voted the second best restaurant in the world and lost the first-place position to Spanish El Celler de Can Roca. However, the first place was regained in 2014. In the following years, Noma temporarily relocated to a number of countries; first London and then Japan, Australia and Mexico. The menu followed the locations and included everything from English scones to bee larva provided by local Maya communities. Noma closed down at its original location in February 2017.

Watch the inspiring video from the Wall Street Journal:

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