There is a lot going on behind the scenes at Noma. The staff and prep area is bigger than the dining room. The ceilings are high and the room is an open space with a kitchen and bins and containers of everything they are working on. There are cookbooks from the floor to the ceiling in a space where they have their family meals and take reservations. There are desks, a foosball table and creative nooks tucked about.
Those of you who follow food and know about Noma have seen the courses, the plating, the processes. But what I loved at @nomacph was the vibe. The people working there have a magical and symbiotic energy that radiated in the dishes. They are so proud of what they do and it shows. They are transparent in what they do, open to share, and take their time when you ask questions. They “teach” as you eat and it’s a gift to be a part of that conversation.
One of my dining mates lives so far north in Canada, they have little access to what most of us eat every day. They are “past the tree line” which means they have no fruit trees, no gardens, no pigs or cows. Their protein is from caribou and fish. They ferment, grow indoors, forage and order food. Tonight, he asked a lot of questions and staff members willingly told him percentages, temperatures and times while he wrote it all down. It was nice they “let us in” and willingly shared what they know.
Noma is a special place where it all comes together. You taste it, you feel it, and it’s wonderful to be a recipient of that thoughtfulness and care. When we set foot in the door, over half the staff came out of the kitchen to say hello. They stood their at the hostess stand with the biggest smiles so happy to welcome us!
It is easy to get caught up in the lists, awards, social media check-ins and hype. It’s significant to both the food industry and to diners for different reasons and there’s no denying that Michelin stars are global currency. Noma may not be a 3-star Michelin restaurant but this is a prime example of why it does not always matter. People who appreciate food at the highest and deepest level fly to Copenhagen just to eat at Noma, and do so repeatedly.
At Noma, there are rooms, shelves and rows of bins, jars and buckets filled with food going through experimental processes that might not be ready for several months or years. And even then, they might discover that the batch is not edible and needs to be thrown out.
Rene Redzepi’s contributions to the culinary landscape can’t be fully quantified until years from now. But if one looks at: restaurant growth in Copenhagen, chefs who have left Noma and what they are doing, where Nordic-influenced food exists, and where else diners can now eat in Copenhagen, there’s no denying that Noma has had impact on shaping Copenhagen tourism as well as food around the world.
At my dinner, different parts of certain ingredients were repeated throughout the menu but used in different ways. Even the deserts had ingredients that were reflective of the earlier parts of the meal. A story told through the food without having to listen to 20 components, is a pure delight for a somewhat seasoned tasting menu diner.
The juice pairings were phenomenal. I predict Noma will also shape beverage programs more than any other restaurant.
And yes, the food was everything I imagined it to be. I take photos to jog my memory about what I ate and to reflect and process everything at a later time. There is no equipment that could capture what I want to remember tonight but I don’t need it because I will remember this for the rest of my life in my heart. ❤️
Video of My Dinner at Noma
Every part of anything edible is explored at Noma. The bee pollen was used as an emulsifier in our scallop dish.
At the 2016 OAD Awards in Copenhagen.