After seven years in Copenhagen and three international pop-ups, in February, Noma served its last meal.
A little over a month later, the restaurant’s entire staff moved to the Mexican jungle to open an outdoor restaurant – temporarily – Noma Mexico. For seven weeks they will serve Noma’s interpretation of tacos and mole to the hundreds of patrons who snatched up every ticket within a day of them going on sale. Then, in June, they will return to Copenhagen to re-open a new, cutting-edge Noma.
Rene Redzepi has long been enamoured of Mexico’s food culture, and the chance to explore it in depth was deeply satisfying to him. For the last 6 months a small team has been traveling all throughout the country from Merida to Ensenada, from Oaxaca to Guadalajara, and everywhere in between. They searched to find that special chile, to understand the seafood, to taste just a few of the infinite variations of mole, and to find inspiration in the vast and wonderful culture. Once in a lifetime experiences, which will transform into a series of dishes.
The kitchen will not just adapt to the seasons but be defined by them. Exposed to the climate, it will be hot, steaming and unpredictable. “There are birds there, and wildlife” and the cooking will reflect this proximity. Redzepi will offer food and beverage pairing based on Mexican ingredients and traditions, served only during this residency.
The open-air restaurant will sit nestled between the jungle and the Caribbean Sea in Tulum and will feature outdoor dining room with open fires and waiters in flip-flops. The structure, designed by star Danish architecture firm BIG, promises to dazzle. Though not a single hole has been dug yet, Noma has already been forced by city codes to amend or abandon some of its more ambitious plans. A floating garden, for example, fell victim to environmental restrictions. But when it is complete, the new Noma Mexico will feel closer to nature.
Back to Copenhagen
Noma 2.0 will also be an experimental farm, with the emphasis on the experimental. “It’s the dream of any chef to be able to go out in the morning and cut fresh parsley. But the reality is that not many people who grow food for a living have the freedom to experiment with varieties. What if you had the time to try all variations of parsley that grow in the northern sea bank, and then share what you learn with the people who do grow food?” Redzepi said. The new Noma, in other words, won’t be growing carrots and onions, it’ll be trying to recapture and introduce biodiversity into the region.
Photos from Rene Redzepi and Santiago Lastra’s Instagrams #nomamexico