The owner of Noma, René Redzepi. / SUR

Case studies

Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant and winner of World's Best Restaurant nomination 2011 to 2014 and 2021 has just closed, owing to the fact, according to owner Redzepi, that 'continuous innovation at high-end restaurants is unsustainable

ANDREW J. LINN

Wine critics are usually expected to guess how long wines will last before they become undrinkable. Should not restaurant critics be required to make similar predictions about the probable lifespan of a restaurant?

The scenario is familiar to every foodie: an avant-garde chef opens a new restaurant with a menu like none ever seen previously. Dishes made from the rarest and unlikely ingredients are listed at astronomic prices and there is a three-month waiting list. The awards begin to pile up, and the chef-owner is all over the media. Until.....

Noma is a perfect example. This Copenhagen restaurant won the World's Best Restaurant nomination 2011 to 2014 and 2021. It took the top spot in the first ever World's 50 Best Restaurants with three Michelin stars. It has just closed, owing to the fact, according to owner Redzepi, that 'continuous innovation at high-end restaurants is unsustainable. Financially and emotionally, as an employer and as a human being, it just doesn't work.'

A new Copenhagen 'star', Alchemist, is announcing 500-euro menus released three months in advance that sell out in seconds. Are the dishes attractive though?

Blood drop-shaped ice cream is served with a QR code that links to an organ donor; a chicken foot served in a cage emulating a factory-farm's cage; thanks to silkworm farmers collecting silkworm excrement, a protein that can be spun into a light meringue and brewed into tea; a yoghurt made with ants. Tests are currently being conducted on butterflies to understand how seasonality affects their flavour. Anyone else got some silly ideas?