It’s a sad day for food and travel enthusiasts because the Copenhagen-based restaurant Noma, which was placed at the top of the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2022, is closing its doors to diners.
Chef René Redzepi, the creator of Noma, shared that the restaurant is shutting down after 20 years of service. But it’s not all bad news for the fine dining place as it will now be transformed into a full-time laboratory.
Redzepi plans to turn the three Michelin stars-winning restaurant into a place where new and innovative recipes can be created for the e-commerce platform Noma Projects.
In an interview with The New York Times, the chef admitted that the reason for closing down the iconic restaurant is because they cannot afford to produce “show-stopping cuisine” while also paying his nearly 100 employees a fair wage and serving diners at a price deemed reasonable by them.
Previously, reports of poor working conditions at high-end restaurants like Noma had surfaced and revealed that these restaurants largely relied on unpaid interns being a major part of their workforce. This led to Noma changing its policies in October 2022, but the cost of paying the interns had added to its overhead costs, a factor that Redzepi claims didn’t have anything to do with him shutting down the operations at the restaurants.
“It’s unsustainable,” he said, “Financially and emotionally, as an employer and as a human being, it just doesn’t work.”
In a blog post, Redzepi and his team shared that this might not necessarily mean the end of Noma for its patrons as they’re open to new ideas, including global pop-ups.
“In this next phase, we will continue to travel and search for new ways to share our work. Is there somewhere we must go in the world to learn? Then we will do a Noma pop-up. And when we’ve gathered enough new ideas and flavors, we will do a season in Copenhagen,” wrote the team, “Serving guests will still be a part of who we are, but being a restaurant will no longer define us. Instead, much of our time will be spent on exploring new projects and developing many more ideas and products.”