Formerly Numa cooks a dish in a grueling, experimenting job at an influential restaurant


Noma, the epicenter of the neo-Scandinavian cuisine movement, has become a magnet for chefs as chef René Redzepi’s Copenhagen dining room climbed into the list of the world’s 50 best restaurants. The Michelin-starred destination has attracted young chefs eager to put Noma on their resumes. But it also attracted established chefs who wanted to see firsthand how the Redzepi team fed wild ingredients, whether sea lettuce or Danish wood ants, and coaxed new fermented flavors into existence in an Arctic region once considered a place to die for fine dining.

On Monday, Redzepi announced it Noma will stop serving guests at the end of next year. The restaurant will evolve into a food laboratory, according to The New York Times I broke the story. You will develop products for Noma’s e-commerce arm while hosting the occasional pop-up in its dining room.

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The news immediately sent shock waves through the restaurant community and sent reporters looking for former Noma chefs and connoisseurs to talk about the restaurant’s legacy and its famous cuisine, which Redzepi is known for. World class meltdowns Almost as good as his world class cooking. The Washington Post reached out to a number of former Noma employees and interns for their opinions.

David Zilber It was Head of the brewing plant in Noma when he left the restaurant in 2020, but was hired six years ago as head chef. The typical working week in Denmark was about 37 hours, Zilber said. But not in Noma. There was easily Easily Weeks at Noma my first year where I worked three times. He said getting up at five in the morning and going to bed at three in the morning “the next day.

“It has its effects,” Zilber added. “You know, I was there for six years, and I would joke that it’s multiplied by three. So it feels like 18, quite frankly.”

Like Zilber, Malcolm Livingston was the second Set in Noma in 2014. Livingston came from New York, where he had made desserts at wd~50 Chef Wylie Dufresne, the flagship restaurant on the Lower East Side. But even this did not prepare him for the innovations that awaited him at Noma.

Renee Of course “He didn’t like sweets,” Livingston said, “but he wanted the desserts to be very appetizing.” “At the time I was there, I never thought I’d be craving ants and brown sugar in candy, but it’s actually pretty cool.” The dessert, Livingston recalled, had a creamy koji mousse with a paste of green herbs and a spread that mixed muscovado sugar and Danish wood ants.

Noma doesn’t look at the pastry department like this else department,” Livingston added. “It’s part of it. Meaning it’s the first restaurant the guests came to, and my department would choose maybe the first course or two for the menu. So you really are part of the experience.

When Jeremiah Langhorne, chef and owner Dabney In Washington, held at Noma in 2009, the restaurant has yet to reach No. 1 on the world’s fifty list. It wasn’t a crawl with unpaid stages at the time. Langhorne remembers being one of the eight people in the kitchen. As such, he had the opportunity to do more at Noma than subsequent apprentices. Yes, he was picking thyme leaves, but he was also picking forage in the woods, making gravy and butter, and making all the stops in the kitchen. More importantly, he took what he learned back to Charleston, where he worked for Chef Sean Brock at McCrady’s.

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Langhorne knew that other chefs, including Michel Bras in France, were already sourcing ingredients. But no one dared to try it in a harsh Scandinavian region, where the growing season was limited and the winters were harsh. If Redzepi made it work in Denmark, Langhorne could certainly do the same in South Carolina, where the young chef was surrounded by an abundance of wild ingredients.

When Langhorne returns, Brock gives him the go-ahead to start searching the landscape for ingredients. Langhorne recalls that McCrady might bring home a local fish but coat it with lichens he was looking for. They then serve the cherry-encrusted fish, sometimes called Chinese artichoke, which has been dug up by a langhorn. “That was a really cool environment to explore,” Langhorne said of the area around Charleston. “When you look at the beach, there are 15 to 20 different things on the coast that you can look at.”

While Langhorne found inspiration in Noma, Michael Rafidi found just another job. Al Rafidi is a chef and restaurateur albi in washington, Spent two months at Noma in 2011 while waiting for a new restaurant to open in Philadelphia. He said he sold practically everything he had, including his car, and used the cash to guarantee his time in Copenhagen. It is believed that he poured about $15,000 into the gig at Noma, which did not pay him for his work.

Rafidi said Copenhagen’s culture “blew me away, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t say being part of 40 other kitchen theaters taught me how to be a chef or how to look at food.”

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Then again, Rafidi was no beginner. He had already cooked for two years at the prestigious Blue Duck Tavern in the county. Rafidi also had no practical Noma experience like Langhorne or Zilber. As head of the fermentation lab, Zilber said, he ran hundreds of experiments simultaneously. Only a small percentage of those, about 5 percent, will find their way onto the list, he said.

Nevertheless, the lab has had a huge impact, both on the food at Noma and on the broader community of chefs.

“There was definitely a before and after when fermentation would appear in effect on Noma’s menu,” said Zilber, now a food scientist at Chr. Hansen, a large biosciences company in Denmark. “It made cooking more complicated. It was like adding a dimension of space to what was already a very complex kitchen. You weren’t just working in landscapes that you could travel on.”

This influence also created cascading effects far from Copenhagen, Zilber added.

“He. She Variable cooking. It’s changed the way restaurants look at their ability to be primarily producers “of ingredients rather than just buyers of them,” Zilber said. I love things… I love taking things apart and putting them back together.”

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