Noma accused of serving up nationalistic ideology

April 11th, 2012

This article is more than 12 years old.

Former chef of the year says he will never surrender to the regime of ‘New Nordic’ cuisine

One of the country’s top chefs is distancing himself from Noma, claiming that the ‘world’s best restaurant’ has a nationalistic approach to cuisine.

Famed as the forefront of ‘New Nordic’ cuisine, Noma under the guidance of head chef Rene Redzepi has become renowned for serving all things Danish, including dirty carrots and ants, and avoiding imported produce – especially that from France and Italy.    

But instead of going along with the style that launched Danish cuisine onto the world stage, renowned chef Rasmus Grønbech wants to steer clear of everything New Nordic.

Grønbech, 38, has been one of the country’s leading chefs since he was crowned Chef of the Year back in 1998. His restaurant was one of four in Copenhagen to win its first Michelin star last month, while Noma missed out on a third star – a decision that surprised many.  

“We don’t want to do another copy of a ‘Nordic Kitchen’,” Grønbech told the Global Post at his restaurant Grønbech & Churchill, which is named after former British prime minister Winston Churchill, partly because he was a vociferous opponent of Nazism.  

“That’s why we plough on with Mr Churchill. We are fighting for our freedom – our gastronomic freedom.”

This latest criticism is nothing new to Noma. In May last year, a headline in Politiken read: “Noma is fascism in avant-garde clothing.” The article went on to highlight “striking similarities between Nazism and the new avant-garde modern Nordic cuisine”, making reference to the Noma staff’s brown shirts.

Nevertheless, Nordic cuisine continues to go from strength to strength. The three other restaurants that won Michelin stars last month are all influenced by Noma’s New Nordic principles.

And Grønbech, himself, confessed he is also an admirer.  “I love what René is doing,” he told the Global Post. 

But there are some principles he isn’t prepared to follow. “We love olive oil,” he protested. “Why can’t we use it just because we are in Denmark?”


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