Rashaad Jones, former captain at Eleven Madison Park in New York City
My first reaction to the news was, “Good for him.” Our culture is so mercurial when it comes to restaurants and chefs. We want a place like Noma to be mind-bending, but not highfalutin. A guest might balk at the cost of lunch at Per Se, then go see Hamilton for the same price. None of it makes any sense.
Then after I sat with it, I thought, How clever. Noma isn’t closing. By announcing its restaurant days are numbered, it has emphasized that it is a restaurant now. And for the next two years. When restaurants close because of financial and sustainability issues, they close. They don’t close two years from now. So it’s not not marketing. It makes Noma’s current product offering scarce, and therefore extremely desirable. It’s quite brilliant. Come 2024, there are dozens of incredible restaurants and voices around the world ready to take Noma’s torch.
Nyesha Arrington, California-based chef, consultant, and caterer
The world of fine dining is a very different landscape from what it was when I was coming up on the line in kitchens. After graduating from culinary school, I remember my fellow colleagues talking about trying to get into Noma for a stage; it was the pinnacle of a cook’s dreams to have that on your resume. But during the early days of modern fine dining, the style of cooking heavily relied on many cooks working for free in exchange for knowledge. Food culture is a bridge to the past and a gateway into the future. I’m looking forward to seeing the evolution of fine dining.
Robert Sietsema, New York City-based restaurant critic for Eater NY
I never went to Noma, it was far too expensive. I couldn’t afford it myself and no publication in their right mind would have sent me. Those who could afford to go were either rich, or financed by publications with very deep pockets. Accordingly, their responses were unfailingly reverent, making me a bit suspicious. I’m not that interested in restaurant cooking that consists of tiny exquisite morsels; preciosity bores me, and so does being around wealthy people who plan restaurant visits months in advance and pay thousands of dollars for them. There’s no way it could be that good. Give me a goat roti with plenty of pepper and tamarind, and I’m happy.
Preeti Mistry, Bay Area-based chef, activist, and author of the cookbook, The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook
There are more young people learning that they don’t have to be abused and exploited in order to work in the restaurant industry. The only surprise I felt is that if all these men are such geniuses, and they can charge pretty much whatever price tag they want, why can’t they figure out a business model that can fairly pay their employees?
Alicia Kennedy, Puerto Rico-based food, politics, and media writer, BA contributor
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