The human cost of working in fine dining have become something of a hot topic in recent months—not just in the restaurant industry, where the grueling hours and demanding standards have always been an open secret, but in pop culture as well. Last year, current and former industry workers lauded The Bear for its depiction of life on the line, particularly Carmy (played by Jeremy Allen White) who suffers from burnout and PTSD after quitting his abusive job at one of the world's top restaurants. Meanwhile Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy are currently both nominated for Golden Globes for their roles in The Menu, a horror take about an embittered chef at an ultra-exclusive restaurant who decides to kill all of the wealthy guests as his culinary swansong.
And while The Menu's nods to Noma—the Copenhagen restaurant, that has remained one of the food world's most acclaimed establishments, topping the World's 50 Best Restaurants list 5 times and earning its long-anticipated third Michelin star in 2021—are unavoidable, it seems that the real life destination has been just as susceptible to those real life stresses. Today, the New York Times reported that Noma will close for regular service at the end of 2024.
"We have to completely rethink the industry," Noma chef and creator René Redzepi told the publication. "This is simply too hard, and we have to work in a different way."
Redzepi, who has been hailed as one of the great innovators of the culinary industry for years, has previously acknowledged that challenges of maintaining Noma's high standards, while being able to give workers fair wages and working hours. Even with tasting menus at the restaurant starting at around $500 per person, he said, "It’s unsustainable. Financially and emotionally, as an employer and as a human being, it just doesn’t work."
While Noma will be closing for service, it will reportedly be transitioning to become a full-time food laboratory to develop products for the brand's e-commerce arm, Noma Projects. It's also reportedly planned for the dining room to open for periodic pop-ups.
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