Chef René Redzepi has plans to transform the kitchen into a full-time laboratory, the New York Times reports.
On Monday, René Redzepi, the creator of Noma, shared exclusively with The New York Times that his restaurant would cease regular operations at the end of 2024. At that point, Redzepi explained, the kitchen will be transformed into a full-time laboratory focusing on recipe creation and goods for its e-commerce platform, Noma Projects.
The change, Redzepi shared, is because he says he can no longer afford to produce showstopping cuisine while also paying his nearly 100 employees a fair wage and serving diners at a price they find reasonable.
“We have to completely rethink the industry,” Redzepi said. “This is simply too hard, and we have to work in a different way.”
The New York Times also pointed to reports in The Financial Times, which reported poor working conditions at elite restaurants like Noma, which relied heavily on unpaid interns. However, in October of 2022, Noma changed its policy to pay interns, which, The New York Times reports, added $50,000 to its monthly overhead costs. Though Redzepi denied this had anything to do with his decision to make change, he did note that the entire industry has become untenable.
“It’s unsustainable,” he said. “Financially and emotionally, as an employer and as a human being, it just doesn’t work.”
In a blog post about what the team is calling “Noma 3.0,” Redzepi and his team further shared that this may not be the end of scoring a table at Noma, because they remain open to new ideas, including global pop-ups.
“In this next phase, we will continue to travel and search for new ways to share our work. Is there somewhere we must go in the world to learn? Then we will do a Noma pop-up. And when we’ve gathered enough new ideas and flavors, we will do a season in Copenhagen,” the team wrote. “Serving guests will still be a part of who we are, but being a restaurant will no longer define us. Instead, much of our time will be spent on exploring new projects and developing many more ideas and products.”
The goal, the team added, is to create a “lasting organization dedicated to groundbreaking work in food, but also to redefine the foundation for a restaurant team, a place where you can learn, you can take risks, and you can grow.” They added, “We hope you’ll join us on this new journey.”