THIBAULT SAVARY / AFP via Getty Images An inside view of the World class Danish restaurant Noma is seen on May 31, 2021 in Copenhagen. - While the six-month Covid-19 closure has been tough for Noma, consistently ranked as one of the world's top restaurants, it's also been an opportunity to reinvent its cuisine. As it reopened this June, the restaurant has reworked its menu -- in part to take the lack of foreign tourists into account. (Photo by Thibault Savary / AFP) (Photo by THIBAULT SAVARY/AFP via Getty Images)
Don't ask me how Michelin stars work: The explanation seems purposefully vague. On Michelin's website, they explain that stars are based on five criteria: "quality of the ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his cuisine, value for money and consistency between visits." That's pretty much it: Things like décor and service aren't taken into account. Meanwhile, the definition of a three-star restaurant is "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey!"
So why has Noma — widely regarded as one of the best and most influential restaurants in the world — never had three stars? Not after topping the World's 50 Best Restaurants list in 2010? Or 2011? Or 2012? Or 2014? I don't know. Why do some people say they dislike The Beatles?
Whatever misgivings Michelin might have had, after 18 years of existence — including two Michelin stars since 2008 — Noma has finally been bumped up to three Michelin stars.
Yesterday, Michelin announced that the Michelin Guide Nordic Countries 2021 had been released online — and it included two new three-star restaurants. First, Chef Esben Holmboe Bang's Oslo-based eatery Maaemo returned to the guide with the same three-stars it had left with after shuttering in 2019 to move to a new location. And then, second, Noma finally got its due.
THIBAULT SAVARY / AFP via Getty Images Mette Brink Soberg, R&D chief manager of the World class Danish restaurant Noma is pictured on May 31, 2021 in Copenhagen. - While the six-month Covid-19 closure has been tough for Noma, consistently ranked as one of the world's top restaurants, it's also been an opportunity to reinvent its cuisine. As it reopened this June, the restaurant has reworked its menu -- in part to take the lack of foreign tourists into account. (Photo by Thibault Savary / AFP) (Photo by THIBAULT SAVARY/AFP via Getty Images)
"René Redzepi's urban oasis, noma, in Copenhagen, Denmark, is promoted from Two to Three Michelin Stars," the announcement states. "It has a strong connection to nature and its holistic approach sees unusual seasonal ingredients showcased in creative and complex dishes."
Additionally, Redzepi received one of four "special awards" presented this year: He received the Michelin Chef Mentor Award "in recognition of the huge influence he has had on the many chefs who have passed through his world-famous kitchen."
As for Noma, they acknowledge their long journey to three stars on their Instagram page. "The seemingly impossible has happened," the restaurant quipped.
In true Noma fashion, they then took a couple of sentences to gracefully acknowledge as many people as they could. "To us, this is an achievement that solidifies Copenhagen as one of the best places in the world for restaurants right now," the restaurant stated. "We want to thank our wonderful guests for their support over the last 18 years and a huge shout of course to all our collaborators — farmers, winemakers, foragers — everyone that's been a part of our giant puzzle, and most of all our team both past and present."