Noma: how the Renaissance of Scandinavian haute cuisine began

Local ingredients, traditional techniques, seasonal recipes: the cuisine of Northern Europe has experienced a real revolution in recent years (even with its own manifesto). Spearheaded by Noma it has become, in its own right, one of the best in the world.

In February of this year, in the coldest month of one of the coldest lands on our continent, the "version 2.0" of the restaurant already elected, four times, the best in the world opened its doors: Noma in Copenhagen.

Imagine tartare in a completely revolutionary way
Three years after the closure of the sixteenth century warehouse where it had found a home for fourteen years, we can say Noma has really created some hiatus about its next opening. However, as the saying goes, there's no such thing as a good thing that comes soon and effortlessly, perhaps waiting for some time had been worth it. In this case, few people have any doubts.

Copenhagen, neighbourhood (and Free City) of Christiania. Here, René Redzepi, chef and co-owner of Noma, has decided to move the headquarters of his now historic local.

Eleven rooms, each with its own function, independent but connected, designed to gravitate around the place where the magic happens: the kitchen. Few elements: natural wood and glass, with Danish nature doing the rest. The work created in collaboration with the BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group studio is an architectural work that deserves to be explored in depth. Here it is enough to say that the partnership was born from an elective affinity based on precise values:

Similar to our idea of hedonistic sustainability, where the most sustainable city is also the most pleasant to live in, Noma has opened the way to a kitchen based on shared values of creativity and respect for the environment. Bjarke Ingels, BIG founding partner.

To give better shape to these values the new Noma has been modified - how could it have not? - even its menu.

Narrow the field down, and then a bit more

This could be the essential formula behind the philosophy of Noma’s cuisine. The basic principle of the Scandinavian restaurant has always been to offer dishes that contain only ingredients from Nordic countries.

The arrival of the new Noma marked a further step in the direction of limitation: three main themes per year, which are decided on a seasonal basis, according to the guidelines of chef Redzepi.

So, even if not entirely vegetarian, the spring and summer menu will feature fruits, vegetables and plant-based food as the main stars. Mushrooms, walnuts, game, elk, deer and bears (yes, bears) will be the raw ingredients used in autumn and winter recipes, strictly provided by local hunters.

A philosophy made of authenticity, tradition, seasonality, ethics and sustainability. The same philosophy that has turned Noma into the temple of the "New Nordic" movement.

The New Nordic movement

The idea of such a limited kitchen is not farfetched. On the contrary. A quick online research would show a great depth to this movement, which can even boast its own manifesto. That of the "New Nordic" movement.

In 2004 twelve Nordic chefs, headed by Danish chef Claus Meyer, decided to establish and write down ten principles that, from that moment on, would have guided the choices of those who animated the kitchens of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.

Dried fish has always been one of the main foods in Scandinavia
Freshness, purity, simplicity, ethics. At the base of everything there had to be the expression of these principles, which could only arise from the establishment of a special bond with the territory.

First of all, local ingredients: to diversify the taste by reintroducing dishes based on ingredients of ancient use, such as wild herbs, cloudberry, whey, Limfjord oysters, pine and juniper.

However, the long-term goal was much higher: to restore the Earth's balance.

When the manifesto was written, the food destined for export, such as, in the case of Denmark, butter and pork, had ended up dominating the local cuisine as well. Restoring the agricultural diversity that had characterised the country in the past seemed to be an essential priority.

Yet, limiting the demands of the New Nordic movement to the use of local raw ingredients, as different as they can be, would be very reductive.

Authentic cuisine

From the use of shells, hay and branches as kitchen utensils to the recovery of traditional methods such as drying, smoking, maturing and pickling, the New Nordic was also a statement to the creativity of Nordic chefs, an attempt to break free from foreign influences, especially French cuisine, in cooking techniques.
A very special salad
Looking to the past more than to the future, proposing an authentic cuisine that responds to a vocation: that of producing food in the most natural way possible. This is, after all, the revolution of the New Nordic. A revolution that allowed Northern Europe to enter the empyrean of haute cuisine.

And all lovers of good food cannot but thank them.

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