Finally, it's The Time
(Screenshots of René Redzepi's Instagram Stories after the last service of Noma on 24th of February 2017)
And sometimes you just can't have it anymore, and although everyone tells you how great it is you have to change it because you feel it's just not right and it's not you anymore, even if it used to be the best thing and what made you the man you are. These are the words that René Redzepi, The truly legendary chef of Noma, told himself when he decided to set a new course for his Danish restaurant to somewhere *else*.
René Redzepi - Albenian-Macedonian-Danish-Genius (Gabriele Stabile)
In a well-detailed manifest (which was published in now mythological magazine Lucky Peach and now only the video version of it was left) Redzepi explains that the concept which led Noma's kitchen would change by definition in the new restaurant (Noma 2.0 - for now): If Noma was based on space which surrounded it, from now on time is what the kitchen will be based on.
Redzepi describes the inherent difficulty of defining what those 'local ingredients' are since 'local' is being redefined non-stop: is it Copenhagen area? Denmark? All of Scandinavia? And what about areas which has the same climate or were under Danish control but not anymore? Not to mention ingredients that are so distant by nature from this area like cucumbers and potatoes, coffee and chocolate! Chocolate! It's impossible without chocolate! It's impossible to build a purist menu so he had to widen the borders of 'local' and construct more flexible menu – although it has nothing to do with 'local'.
These are *probably* edible flowers, these are *probably* mushrooms in chocolate
And so, like as he just couldn't ignore the opportunity to open Noma, he just couldn't continue walking at the same path he went until now and had to ask himself: 'What's next?'. Of course, the decision to shut down one of the best restaurants in the world including being four times THE best restaurant in the world takes lots of courage. But Redzepi is a brave man and has tons of self confidence who isn't afraid to call the way Noma used to work 'stupid and impractical'. His own words.
If building a menu based on defined spatial borders, more or less, is a somewhat 'easy' task, than time is a slick concept and one can never know what will be caught that day or how the weather will affect the crops that year. But the fact that Redzepi is the genius which he is derives from his ability to say: 'We're not afraid. We know enough and talented enough to deal with whatever time will bring and we will serve the most excellent dishes so our customers won't feel the storm which blazed yesterday or the frost which covers the land. Leave it to us and see what we can do'.
And so in the cold season (January-April) it won't be necessary to dig deep into the ground because the eyes will be turned to the sea and its ingredients crops which are on their prime, mixed with the most stubborn that survived the temperatures.
Spring and summer (May-August) symbolize a remarkable innovation at the super-elite culinary scene – the new restaurant will transform into a completely vegetarian one, and beside some help from the local farmers will expose the best of crops that were raised by the staff on their private farm and the greenhouse beside it, not to mention the lunatic laboratory located right next to the restaurant.
The third change will come when autumn comes (September-January): mushrooms, nuts and berries, game and poultry, or like Redzepi's poetry:
'A teal for two,
A Goose for six,
Perhaps a leg of moose for eight
And anything in-between'.
And that completes the circle of seasons and the concept of the new restaurants and the relations between its staff and nature: if until now the space was static so the man had to tour around in search of the ingredients in its near and far surroundings, than now he can just stand still and allow the dynamic time pass around him, turn his eyes anywhere he would like and go with its flow. At winter it will gaze at the sea, after that down to earth and inside it, and finally straight forward to the forest and up to the sky. No need to move but only to stand and let time do what he does best – move. Like Redzepi says when he decided on closing Noma: 'Finally, it's the time', But not in the sense of 'it's about time' but as a will to explain the main reason for his decision – 'it's the time that made me do so'.
Noma continues to work until the end of 2016, apart of a short break on the beginning of the year when all the stuff will go to Australia – nothing is 'ordinary' in that kind of restaurant – and I've decided that no matter how much it costs (and it costs a lot!) I will do my best in order to get a little bit of what won't be anymore.
And one last anecdote:
On the aesthetic clip at the end of the manifest the staff goes for a visit in a deserted building not far from Noma. If that is the location for the new restaurant than here's a presentation which tells where it is, so if someone wishes to thank me for it – I would be happy to get a lunch at Noma :)
(An August 2017 update - I was right!)