Hospitality Business Magazine

Noma announces 2024 closure to enter food lab field

Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant that helped to define a genre of ultra high-end, locally foraged, and culinarily groundbreaking cuisine, has announced that it will close its doors in 2024.

After several announcements over the years that Noma was temporarily closing, opening up pop-up locations in MexicoJapan, or Australia, becoming a pandemic-era burger joint or otherwise reinventing itself, the renowned restaurant has announced it is shutting down regular service.

For good this time. Once the restaurant closes its doors, Noma will host occasional pop-ups and transform into a full-time food lab, which essentially means the newest player in the world of direct-to-consumer food products (like Wild Rose Vinegar and Smoked Mushroom Garum) is the world’s most famous restaurant.

A Noma spokesperson has said that they do not consider this a closing of the brand. “To continue being noma, we must change,” reads a statement on the restaurant’s website.

“Winter 2024 will be the last season of Noma as we know it.”

The restaurant is known for fantastical and interestingly named dishes like Moldy Egg Tart and Reindeer Heart Tartare, and garnered three Michelin stars in 2021, as well as winning first-place rankings on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. 

Opened in 2003 by Claus Meyer and René Redzepi, Noma and its culinary team pioneered a style of cooking that came to be known as New Nordic, relying on local ingredients that often have to be painstakingly foraged and prepared. These labour-intensive processes and the punishing schedules needed to execute them simply cannot coexist with fair, equitable, and humane work practices, Redzepi told The New York Times. “It’s unsustainable,” he said. “Financially and emotionally, as an employer and as a human being, it just doesn’t work.”

Noma’s announcement comes just months after the restaurant began paying its interns. In October of 2021, the restaurant announced that for the first time, its interns, known as stagiaires or stages in the industry, would receive pay.

In the world of fine dining, interns are rarely paid, and routinely asked to maintain grueling work hours in exchange for the invaluable “experience” of working at a top restaurant. Because Noma is arguably the most prestigious kitchen in the world, these interns came from around the globe to learn from the most well-regarded chefs in the industry.

A Noma spokesperson says that after the restaurant’s transformation, the intern programme will continue. “The transition into Noma 3.0 has no correlation to our paid internship programme (which will continue for the next two years and onwards),” they said.

The practice of paying Noma interns has reportedly added $US50,000 in monthly operating expenses to the restaurant’s budget, according to The New York Times.

While Noma—the restaurant—is closing its doors in 2024, the culinary braintrust will be reincarnated in what Redzepi is calling “Noma 3.0.” The Noma test kitchen will develop new products and dishes to sell on an e-commerce platform and occasionally open up as a pop-up restaurant. It’s certainly not the last we’ll be hearing of Redzepi and his team, as they branch out into new-to-them territory. But as Redzepi wrote in the closure announcement, “Serving guests will still be a part of who we are, but being a restaurant will no longer define us.” Sources: Bon Apetit/ Noma/ NY Times