NOMA 2.0

Ever since René Redzepi and his heart child NOMA broke through the gastronomical walls to earn a spot as The Worlds Best Restaurant in 2010, nothing has held him or the Danish restaurant back. When it comes to serving one of the best restaurant experiences in the world, there is not many other places as highly recommended as his. Four times in the past seven years NOMA has been looking down from the top of the podium at the San Pellegrino “50 Best Restaurants” show, but for René the prestigious award is nothing more than a friendly pad on the back. A helpful one of course, as it has seen travellers from all around the world make the trip to Copenhagen, Denmark for a visit at his ensemble.


When René started his project of bringing nordic cuisine onto the global food-stage back in 2003 on the ground floor of a hulking, 18th-century warehouse in which the Danes once stockpiled dried fish and whale oil to trade with other nations at the waterfront in Nyhavn, his goal was to reach the top. He did, and it has been a challenge of a lifetime. But René and NOMA are not finished yet, not even close to.

“This is by far the most pressure I’ve ever been under,”

says René Redzepi in an interview with Wall Street Journal. After almost thirteen years in the old warehouse buildings, NOMA closed down at the beginning of 2017. René Redzepi was feeling restless. The previous two years had seen trips abroad—to Japan, Australia and Mexico, all of which led to pop-up restaurants in those locations—becoming more frequent. He wasn’t tired of his old place but as he toured the world, opened pop-up spots and gained knowledge of a wide range of different types of indigenous kitchens he gradually realised, that for the creativity to continuously flourish at NOMA, he was dependent on building his own world. “We took over a place where there was already greatness in the walls,” Redzepi says. “Now it’s up to us to bring the soul ourselves.” 

Although he actually found his location for NOMA 2.0 back in 2014, the three years that has passed since with opening in Mexico, Japan and Australia, have been vital for the maturity of the process. “One of the big motivations behind the pop-ups,” he says, “was learning what it means to create new space. They were like a training camp for what we’re doing now.”

René and his team were ready for the big move. Being one of the greatest chefs alive, the decisions on what innovative and jaw-dropping new culinary additions he would make to NOMA 2.0  was of course a very important part in the new edition of the worlds best restaurant. But what had René the most worried, challenged and close to shutting down was the architectural aspect. How would he be able to bring the exceptional food together with equally as exceptional surroundings, without losing the soul and spirit that has sent NOMA to the top and has kept René’s passionate food-loving heart beating with excitement even after fifteen years in one of the most demanding jobs in the world. René was keen to keep the roots firmly planted in the danish soil. So with help from the fellow dane, world renowned architect Bjarke Ingels, he began the journey. 

The restaurant itself is located in a medieval fortification; the Danish built the mine-storage facility beside it in the late 1930s for use during World War II. “We had all these wild ideas at first,” Redzepi says. “We thought, what if the original building had exploded from one of the mines? We could make a facade that reflected that.”  Due to the historical significance of the buildings soon to house NOMA 2.0, René encountered a variety of different obstacles. Much of the property was not allowed to be torn down. Something the danish chef became aware of only when the first hole was dug out.
Last summer the team came across, what René somewhere deep inside had feared from the start, but forgotten as things were rolling. Parts of a 17th-century wall were unearthed. Preservationists were called in to determine its significance.“They told me it could possibly take two years to figure out what it was and how it might affect us,” Redzepi says. “I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t breathe. We would have gone bankrupt.” But after just five weeks the report was back. The construction was able to continue and now, in the beginning of 2018, NOMA 2.0 are ready for new orders. The new campus will encompass 11 buildings and 2,100 square feet of garden, to be designed in the spring by Piet Oudolf. Along the entrance of the buildings peeps out three identical greenhouses constructed almost entirely of glass. Two of the greenhouses will be used to grow ingredients like microgreens, herbs and edible flowers. The other will house the restaurant’s bakery and a test kitchen. The dining-room has its own digitally controlled LED lighting system, which will change according to the seasons.

NOMA 2.0 will be not only a manifestation in culinary excellence, but also a powerfull display of nordic design and architecture at its best. But who knows for how long the great danish chef can stay still. “In a creative endeavor, it’s very important that you build for change.” says René Redzepi before finishing his interview with Wall Street Journal.