Sat, Jan 13, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Noma has lost everything. Can it come back even stronger?

Rene Redzepi is creating a new Noma, setting aside many of the achievements of the past 14 years in search of new ideas and a new approach to food

By Richard Vines  /  Bloomberg

“We have to open on Feb. 15, or else it is over,” he says. “There is no more cash flow. There’s no more bank loans. There is no more nothing. That is the top of the delay that we can handle as a tiny organization.” Eighty people now work for Noma, including cleaners, dishwashers, himself and his wife, Nadine, whom he met when she was a waitress at his restaurant.

The restaurant will sprawl across seven non-adjoined rooms, all connected with glass roof-like panels, so it feels as if you are going outdoors when you walk between them. The area is flooded with natural light — well, more of a trickle than a flood on a winter’s day in Denmark. A greenhouse is being installed on the roof of the original depot building, and there is land down to the edge of an adjacent lake, though Noma will continue to buy most vegetables from its regular suppliers.

There’s a meat room, a fish room, a room for fermentation, a prep kitchen, a barbecue, staff quarters and a private dining room. There’s no shortage of space on the site but the main restaurant will continue to seat just 40 people, in addition to between eight and 16 more diners in the private room. “It’s a good number,” Redzepi says.

Redzepi’s stake in Noma is 35 percent. He says his main partner, Marc Blazer, is the ideal business partner because of his interest in food and his commitment to Noma’s values. Blazer is chairman and CEO of New York-based Overture Investment Partners, a firm with interests in hospitality and consumer businesses.

“I would prefer to shut than just to have a long range of backers who can go uptown and say that they are” Noma investors, Redzepi says. “I want people that are involved in this. If people were not working for the project, then I would never want them.”

Isn’t he ever tempted just to cash in on Noma’s success?

“We have had plenty of lucrative offers,” Redzepi says. “It might be hard to believe, but I am doing fine. I have a house. I live with Nadine’s mother, my three children and Nadine. It is a 200-square-meter house and we get to travel. We don’t own cars. We have very limited expenses.”

And don’t get your hopes up for a pop-up in the US. “It’s not in the books,” Redzepi says. “There are many other places that we look at first. There are places in Asia.”

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