Dana Cowin, New York City-based founder of Speaking Broadly Media and former editor in chief of Food & Wine magazine
While we can look at Redzepi closing Noma in 2024 as a radical change, it seems to me more like an evolution of what Redzepi has been building over time. His core mission doesn’t change—he’s long been devoted to his R&D lab—but he appears to be accentuating the more financially viable expression of that mission. What this news signifies to me is a flashing warning sign for the end of global fine dining. If Redzepi can’t make it sustainable, who can? Who will? Who wants to? Does anyone care? And what’s next?
Angel Medina, co-owner of República, one of Bon Appétit’s 50 Best New Restaurants of 2022, in Portland, Oregon
As someone who never got to experience Noma, I am selfishly heartbroken to watch its doors close. Redzepi has given many in our industry some incredible things to aspire to. Most people don’t really think about the foundation that we (owners and chefs) were given by our predecessors. The model that many of my contemporaries have used to build these magnificent restaurants is, and always has been, one that is unsustainable.
Jeff Gordinier, New York-based author of Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World
These are the last words of my 2019 book, Hungry, which chronicled my travels with René Redzepi to various parts of the world: “It can change. It can change. It can change.” In that instance, back in 2018, Redzepi was telling me about Noma’s new compound at the edge of the Freetown Christiania neighborhood in Copenhagen. But ultimately I had a feeling that that phrase would wind up applying to the future of Noma and to fine dining itself, which is what we’re witnessing now.
Fine dining is undergoing a shift because of problematic elements that have made it unsustainable, as Redzepi has said, and as we see in shows like The Bear—but also because styles change as time passes. No one digs being trapped in Tweezerville. Still, I have dined at Noma eight times and it has always been worth the trip. Each meal introduced me to absurdly delicious flavors that I wouldn’t have been able to experience anywhere else. I think it’s only natural that fine dining will evolve into something else, but I do hope that restaurants will keep prioritizing the sort of innovation that Noma made a mission out of.
Greg Baxtrom, chef-owner of New York City’s Olmsted, Five Acres, Maison Yaki, and Patti Ann’s
From afar, it seemed like everything was going well. But I don’t think Noma closing reflects the state of fine dining at large, because the issues Redzepi has pointed to are prevalent throughout the industry, not just in fine dining. I think we’re currently in, and will continue to see, a huge shift in the industry in terms of how we view what a restaurant is, and what the responsibility of the chef is.