End of an institution: crisis of meaning of the best restaurant in the world - how the noma in Japan wants to find itself again

What René Redzepi threw at his colleagues in January carried weight.

End of an institution: crisis of meaning of the best restaurant in the world - how the noma in Japan wants to find itself again

What René Redzepi threw at his colleagues in January carried weight. He, the restaurateur behind one, if not the best restaurant in the world, put an end to an entire industry. Upscale gastronomy is no longer acceptable, he declared his Noma to be obsolete. In the coming year, Redzepi will close the starred restaurant because he would rather experiment again and, above all, back onto the streets.

Redzepi has achieved pretty much everything that can be achieved in the culinary world with its restaurant. What remained was managing the status quo - and boredom. He says he has the greatest respect for anyone who has made it in this industry for a long time, before he starts to get down to the big but. "There's that moment of creativity, that explosion -- then it calms down, it stagnates, then everyone has their own handwriting and it becomes part of the new classics, and eventually it becomes old school and you carry it on." the chef in an interview with The Telegraph.

The gastronomic high-flyer, who triggered a small revolution with his Nordic cuisine in the early 2000s, has not had enough. Rather than resting on his laurels, he wants to continue what he says is "creative forever". As he put it on the restaurant's Instagram page a few weeks ago, "To continue being the Noma, we need to change." Redzepi named the keywords test kitchen, food laboratory and product development. Many were surprised, but Noma has always stood for progressive approaches to cooking.

However, the latest developments relating to the noma show that the great turning point may not be so much a reinvention as much more a return. Noma has moved to Japan – not permanently, but with a certain degree of radicalism. In Kyoto, Redzepi and team are currently working on a pop-up restaurant. Noma Kyoto is to be a guest at the Ace Hotel for ten weeks.

It's supposed to start on March 15th, you want to stay until May 20th. 5000 guests are expected. The seats were sold out within a minute. The team wants to bring their own interpretations based on local ingredients to the plates in a very nomalike way. Does that appeal to the traditionalists of Japanese cuisine? "I want to surprise here, not teach," explains Redzepi.

Pop-ups are nothing new for Noma, the team has already made guest appearances in Tokyo, Sydney and Mexico. The fact that it was Japan again is thanks to the pandemic. And Instagram. The beginning of the pandemic was a strange time, according to Redzepi. "I was locked in my house. It was a tough time [...] At the time I was sitting there and I said to myself - when this is over, we're going somewhere," he says. At that time he discovered a picture of the premises on Instagram and knew that this was the right place for a pop-up. Two and a half years of planning followed.

There's a lot more to the idea of ​​"we're going somewhere" than a little noma interlude abroad. Uprooting plays a key role in the latest project. The entire team plus partner and children, a total of almost 100 people, relocated to Kyoto for this time. Because Redzepi is pursuing a far more comprehensive goal with his project than "offering people a moment they will never forget" - the search for the kiss of the muse.

He tells of meditating with Zen Buddhist monks over the past few months, of week-long pilgrimages and tea ceremonies. "For us, it's all about coming here and having a life experience. Going to another part of the world and learning something and getting to know a new culture," he explains. He is aware of what this claim means for his team.

Of course he's worried that his staff in Japan will be fine once the children settle in at school. "I feel very responsible for everyone's well-being. I want them to feel at home," he says. "It's just crazy. Schools and kindergartens for everyone. Housing and medical care. Work visas. It changes our whole lives."

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Quelle: The Telegraph, Noma