A server sets a fine dining table.

René Redzepi, celebrity chef and creator of Noma, cited the modern fine dining business model as “unsustainable.”

‘World’s Best Restaurant’ Shuts Down, Bets on Reinvention

After 20 years, three Michelin-star restaurant Noma is closing its doors at the end of 2024.

Foodie doomsday sayers have predicted the end of fine dining since before the pandemic began, and they recently added a piece of evidence toward their claim. In what many chefs and restaurateurs are calling a bad omen for the industry, world-renowned Danish restaurant Noma—which has earned three Michelin stars and topped the list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants five times, most recently in 2021—is shutting down. At least, in its current form. 

Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the prestigious restaurant’s chef and creator René Redzepi announced Noma would close its doors to regular service at the end of 2024, after serving their three seasonal menus: vegetable, forest, and ocean. 

Redzepi cited modern fine dining as an “unsustainable” business model that needs to be completely revamped as a driving factor in his decision. “Financially and emotionally, as an employer and as a human being, it just doesn’t work,” Redzepi said in an interview with The New York Times. With long hours and challenging physical working conditions, plus the toll Covid took on sales and staff, it’s no secret the full-service restaurant industry is at both a breaking point and a crossroad.

“To continue being Noma, we must change. Noma as you know it is closing, as we begin a new chapter: Noma 3.0,” a voice read in an animated video on Noma’s Instagram

What is Noma 3.0? Think test tubes and pop-ups. Starting in 2025, Noma is transforming into a “giant lab” and pioneering test kitchen dedicated to innovation and developing new flavors, according to its website. Noma is uniquely suited for its next iteration after earning a reputation as being an experimental mecca, with a rotating seasonal menu featuring creations such as bear dumplings and reindeer brain custard. 

In the next phase, Redzepi and his team will continue traveling around the world in search of new culinary practices to learn, and after gathering enough new ideas and flavors, will return to Copenhagen and open for a new season as well as host occasional pop-ups and special events worldwide. 

“Serving guests will still be a part of who we are, but being a restaurant will no longer define us,” Redzepi said in a statement. 

“Instead, much of our time will be spent on exploring new projects and developing many more ideas and products. Our goal is to create a lasting organization dedicated to groundbreaking work in food, but also to redefine the foundation for a restaurant team, a place where you can learn, you can take risks, and you can grow,” he added.

Since first opening in 2003, Noma has helped shape the identity of modern fine dining with its focus on sourcing food locally by foraging, and rotating menus based on seasonal product availability, versus importing expensive ingredients from around the world. This exploration of Scandinavian food and “New Nordic” cuisine has led to creative concoctions and out-of-the-box dishes, some not for the faint-hearted (like a duck’s head with the top of its skull surgically removed, brain still intact). 

Noma is retaining all of its team members in its next venture, according to its website, and hopes to become a more sustainable workplace with more opportunities for people to diversify their skills. “It’s time to redefine what it means for us to be a restaurant, and to build a lasting organization for our team to thrive in,” Redzepi wrote on Noma’s website.