[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]fter 12 years, renowned chef Rene Redzepi will serve his last dish at Noma on January 31, 2016, until it reopens in 2017, in a new location.
The two-Michelin starred restaurant, which is considered one of the most influential in the world, will return in 2017 with its own urban farm, a new mission and a new menu that will be exclusively vegetarian during the summer.
It will be located in the Danish capital’s self-governing hippy enclave of Christiania, where cannabis is freely sold and smoked on the streets. (Click here to read about the rise of cannabis cuisine around the world.)
From December 2015 to April 2016, Noma firstly will relocate to Sydney, a project similar to Heston Blumenthal’s when he took the Fat Duck to Melbourne (click here to read more).
Earlier this year, Redzepi took Noma to Tokyo in the form of a pop-up at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. More than 3,000 people booked a £440 seat to experience his cooking, with one of his signatures being live shrimp covered in ants.
In two years’ time, Redzepi plans for the reinvented Noma to occupy what is currently a derelict building that has been turned into an informal skate park with walls covered in graffiti. If all goes to plan, it will feature a rooftop greenhouse and allotment built on a raft floating on an adjacent lake.
Journalist Jeff Gordinier interviewed Redzepi for The New York Times recently, and highlighted the trend-setter’s long-term vision: “He grabbed a pebble and scratched out the number 12 in the dirt. Then he added a zero, conveying the notion that Noma could last for a century or more. ‘We should make decisions that make this evolution last for 912 years,’ he said.”
Not only is Redzepi dreaming of longevity – immortality even – but wants to do away with the traditional format of a tasting menu, of dining the way we know it, whereby gourmet meals start with an amuse bouche, before moving on to the appetiser, the starter, the palate cleanser, the main, a pre-dessert, sweets and petit fours.
Gordinier writes: “In the fall, Noma’s menu will focus only on wild game (from goose to moose) and foraged autumnal ingredients like mushrooms and forest berries. In the winter, when ‘the waters are ice-cold and some of the fish have bellies full of roe,’ as [Redzepi] put it, Noma will mutate into a seafood restaurant.”
Gordinier writes: “Spring and summer? ‘The world turns green,’ [Redzepi] said. ‘And so will the menu.’ In an expectation-thwarting move, during those months Noma will become a fully vegetarian restaurant, with much of the bounty ostensibly coming from the farm he wants to conjure up. ‘It’s huge,’ [Redzepi] said. ‘How are you going to give a bowl of spinach the same pleasure that a steak gives? A richness of flavor: That is something that we will deal with.'”
Gordinier adds: “Over the years, Noma has pioneered approaches to fermentation, foraging, aging and even cooking with insects.” He quotes head chef, Daniel Giusti as saying: “‘You’re taking risks every time you move forward. But a big leap into agriculture could be the riskiest move of all.'”
Redzepi is also planning a second, more informal restaurant for Copenhagen to be opened in partnership with Noma’s head chef Kristian Baumann, meaning that those who can’t afford to eat at the new incarnation of the “world’s best restaurant” might still have a chance of tasting his magic.