The best restaurant in the world will close at the end of 2024 because its chef believes modern haute cuisine has become unsustainable:
Since opening two decades ago, Noma — the Copenhagen restaurant currently serving grilled reindeer heart on a bed of fresh pine, and saffron ice cream in a beeswax bowl — has transformed fine dining. A new global class of gastro tourists schedules first-class flights and entire vacations around the privilege of paying at least $500 per person for its multicourse tasting menu.
Noma has repeatedly topped lists of the world’s best restaurants, and its creator, René Redzepi, has been hailed as his era’s most brilliant and influential chef.
This move is likely to send shock waves through the culinary world. To put it in soccer terms: Imagine that Manchester United decided to close Old Trafford stadium to fans, though the team would continue to play.
The decision comes as Noma and many other elite restaurants are facing scrutiny of their treatment of the workers, many of them paid poorly or not at all, who produce and serve these exquisite dishes. The style of fine dining that Noma helped create and promote around the globe — wildly innovative, labor-intensive and vastly expensive — may be undergoing a sustainability crisis.
As the human cost of the industry comes under scrutiny, Mr. Redzepi’s headaches have multiplied, with media reporting and online activism critical of Noma’s treatment of foreign workers and reliance on unpaid interns. In October, Noma began paying its interns, adding at least $50,000 to its monthly labor costs.
In the past two years, Mr. Redzepi and his staff also scaled their last remaining mountaintop, receiving a third Michelin star, and for a record-breaking fifth time, Noma topped the influential World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, making it ineligible for future wins.
I'll be in San Francisco next weekend, home to 29 Michelin-starred restaurants. Should I go to one of them (assuming I can get a reservation)?