Noma in Copenhagen is closing down... Why?

Noma stops to take reservation for 2024 and will be closing down. Is Covid or the Ukraine War responsible? Or it’s the model fine dining coming to an end? Some even said The Menu (film) is being blamed for shutting down the restuarant…

What do you think?

Discussion on another NOMA closing thread.

My own take is that the days of the very long, and increasingly very expensive tasting menu are numbered.


I think in a world a Covid and Ukraine war, people places other priorities, than eating a 3-stars meal. There are much less tourists, and less availability of cheap interns as well. In fact, most 3-stars restaurants has a lot of interns working without getting paid.

I wonder how the restaurant sector will change with this shortage of labour.


The UK has had a double whammy that has caused labour shortages.

Firstly, there’s Brexit which has meant that, in practical terms, workers from other European countries can no longer come here. And, on the other side of that coin, I was recently reading an article by a Briton who owns a “British” bar in Spain where, prior to Brexit, would have employed fellow Britons but now cannot, so some of the bar’s “style” is now lost.

And Covid has meant that many hospitality workers could not work during lockdowns and have now found alternative, better paid employment.

The effect is being felt at all levels of the restaurant industry. I see places reducing their opening hours as they cannot fully staff the original hours. And I see restaurants reducing the number of dishes on their menu or, at the higher end, scrapping the carte in favour of a single set menu of maybe five or six courses. It reduces wastage and is easier to prepare.


I haven’t had a relaxed dine-in meal where I’ve been comfortable since February 2020.

The first 2 weeks of March 2020, I went to a popular bistro, which was busy, and I was a nervous wreck, so I couldn’t enjoy the meal. I kept my coat folded on my lap because I was too anxious to put my coat on the coat rack where it would touch other coats. We had share plates, and I didn’t take 2nd helpings because the idea of other people’s used utensils touching the communal food bothered me.

I didn’t go inside a restaurant to dine from March 14,2020 until around July 2020, when I had lunch with a friend inside a mostly empty Chinese restaurant. I can’t say I was able to relax and enjoy the experience. In 2020, I dined inside restaurants 6 times, 3 times in 2021. No dinners inside in 2022. When I have travelled in 2022, I’ve eaten take-out in my hotel room or in a park.

I am supporting the upscale restaurants in Toronto and my mid-sized Canadian city that offer their meals to go, but I’m eating these upscale meals less often than I was eating them in 2019 and early 2020.

If I was travelling to Denmark, I’d be getting my meals to go or eating outside. I think a fair number of people are not dining at restaurants the way they once were.

I’ve seen similar Covid effects here . . . reduced staff, reduced hours, reduced menu choices. On the plus side delivery options have expanded beyond the usual pizza/Chinese/sandwich options.


I have friends that are very uncomfortable eating in a restaurant, even now. I guess there are some permanent impact for some people to eat out.

Personally, I’ve ordered a more fancy take away meal in 2020, I find that eating the meal in cardboard boxes, didn’t make the meal “special”, I think lower end and more simple food are more suitable for take away.

I had 2 big celebration meals for our birthdays in 2021, one 2 stars, another 3 stars lunch. The 3 stars was chosen by H from a list I gave him after research on food he liked. But it was also because of post-quarantine we wanted to treat ourselves better.

2022 is another story, crisis after crisis, the Ukrainian war and especially the energy crisis, inflation is non stop in Europe, and I bet in other countries as well. In France, even though we have nuclear plants, they are not well maintained, and the delay of the restart of the machines at the end of 2022 has an impact of electricity bill here. We were about to have all our smaller and beloved crafted bakery and pastries shops closing down, as their electricity bill rose 4 times and in one case 22 times. 80% was about to close in 2023. I believe some are still closing. Government finally stepped in to ask electricity companies “to do” something about it to save the sector. Long stories short, people are now cautious with their spending.


I see here the flourish of dark kitchens, delivery places are inventing new types of food.


Same effect here as well, restaurants have a lot of problem recruiting. With covid, people change their mentality. They don’t want to spend that much time working, but rather, either doing things they like as they acquire new skills or spend more times with family.

I saw many non cooking friends, start to cook during covid, and they like it. Food shops flourish though.

I believe high end restaurants like Noma, international tourist is an important source of their client, without that with all sort of ever-changing restrictions in traveling, you can’t predict a meal a year ahead, I guess there are many cancellations, and if people show medical certificates to prove they are sick with Covid, restaurant is obliged to cancel the reservation, I don’t know if they can still charge the clients and instantly find clients to refill the places.

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We also treated ourselves in the summer of 2021, eating at five or so starred places over the period. All a bit further away from home, so needed an overnight hotel stay which added to the enjoyment. Last year was much more restrained with us only doing one Michelin starred place all year

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The large majority of people eating at 3 (and similar expensive) restaurants have and will have enough money to spend on such expenses. It is more a reflection of in general very thin margins in the restaurant business which thereby relies on “free” work from stagiaires and other practices which ultimately might lead to potentially unsatisfactory work environments (in the moment the focus is on restaurants but it goes far beyond, e.g. academia with postdocs etc). Ultimately I expect that there will be discussions and chefs and restaurant owners will say that they want to change things in the future but actually relatively little will change - there will be still many high-end restaurants throughout the world working on similar business models and every time another high profile one closes we will have similar “reaction”.

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I was surprised that 2 upscale restaurants in my midsized city plated their take-out on regular ceramic plates, which were ours to keep. I’ve gained a few plates, ramekins and decorative jars from the takeout.

We eat takeout on ceramic plates at home. If it’s a fancy meal, I put the food in serving dishes, or plate it.

We get maybe 1 fancy takeout a month, 2 midrange (usually upscale Lebanese or Chinese), 1 pizza or fried chicken, and 1 fish & chips each month.

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Wow, I’ve never received “real” plates. But I’m with you on serving takeout/delivery on my usual dishes.

But I must say, the pandemic did seem to bump up the quality of takeout containers. I’ve wondered if Tupperware, Rubbermaid, etc is suffering as the takeout containers have become my go-to for storage or sending home leftovers.

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I think it’s a combination of an unsustainable business model running into fewer people who are willing to spend hours on a tasting menu.

As others have noted the practice of relying upon unpaid or low paid kitchen staff just isn’t viable longer term. There was an article last year in the FT about that issue and it focused particularly on the problems in Copenhagen. Reading that story made me swear off going to any high end places in that town.

I used to do tasting menus. I never really enjoyed it. Out of the 8 to 20 courses only a few would be something that you really enjoyed. I wanted to say stop the meal and just give me a plate of that. But you couldn’t. I feel as though many of us went to meals like that because it was the trend. Almost like you were expected to do that to show your food street cred.

Now the way I feel I don’t want someone to tell me what I should eat. If I’m paying all this money I want to pick what I eat. There was this place called Benno. The menu had several categories. You could pick either 3, 4 or 5 courses for a meal. Create your own progression. It was phenomenal. Great food and the service was top notch. Was sad to see it close last year. I think a model like that works much better for me for a high end dining experience.

Many people I know think the same. The last thing we want to do is spend hours eating tiny bites of this or that and having every course explained.

I will make an exception for an omakase sushi meal.


It’s fairly obvious. They had to start paying their employees in October. That accounted for $50,000 more in costs. They quickly realized they couldn’t afford to continue that way. They had 64 cooks on staff. 34 were paid. 30 were unpaid. I like Rene and what he’s done for food and fine dining, but fuck him. That’s horrible. They deserve to shut down (it’s not even a closing, it’s a pivot). He’s trying to hide behind fine dining is bad, etc etc, but he’d keep doing what he’s been doing if he could either go back to not paying his employees or be able to pay them and still make a profit.


I didn’t know that!

In checking it out, I found this lovely quote;

" “Financially and emotionally, as an employer and as a human being, it just doesn’t work,” said Chef René Redzepi, one of the masterminds behind specials like live shrimps and ants and duck brain served in its own skull and eaten with a spoon made from its own tongue.

The move comes just three months after the restaurant began to pay its interns for the first time."


dont do a lot of three star eating on our own dime these years - but this seems like a continuing cycle for these edgy places with extremely exotic ingredients or complex experimental cooking- they are able to get staff that want to be part of it (and learn from it) and lines of customers - but its not sustainable forever. Think of El Bulli, even without a pandemic the constant push to experiment, use new techniques must have been exhausting - it ended. There is always going to be a limited audience for the extended, experimental tasting menu, but particularly with the hubbub, difficult reservations and price point of places like Noma.

It seems like for longevity a balance has to be found between the unusually special and sustainability. We had an exquisitely presented and very enjoyable tasting menu at Maihöfli – Oscar de Matos in Lucerne last summer, and have had other similar experiences over the years where the highly trained chefs (Matos worked at El Bulli) seem to find a level where lovely and interesting cuisine can be produced in a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere.

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This, exactly.

Restaurants all runs on extremely thin margins, and they all have a life cycle.

Nothing lasts forever, and certainly nothing that is held together by the thinnest of papier-mâché, financially.

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This is to be seen imho. We are coming from an era of low interest rates and cheap and abundant money. In 2022, the era of low interest rates came to an end with inflation rampant. Restaurant owners have to face rising prices of ingredients, as well as elevated electricity bills and wages.

Things will go back to ‘normal’ if the economy ‘normalises’, with again lower than historical interest rates and inflation kept in check. But if we are moving to a new economic regime, well, maybe high-end restaurants won’t be as omnipresent as they have been, except for places like London, NYC, Dubai, and so on.