Noma has topped the prestigious World's 50 Best Restaurants list so many times—five—that it's not eligible to win anymore. But those who want to travel to Copenhagen to taste for themselves now have a limited opportunity to do so: The Danish restaurant said Monday that it plans to close at the end of next year, then reopen as a test kitchen, reports the Wall Street Journal. "To continue being Noma, we must change," owner and renowned chef Rene Redzepi says on the restaurant's website. Noma may occasionally resurface in "pop-up" fashion around the world, but the days of regular fine dining at the Copenhagen site are over.
The New York Times notes that Noma and other elite restaurants have come under scrutiny of late for the grueling hours and low pay—sometimes no pay at all—of kitchen staffers and interns. "We have to completely rethink the industry," Redzepi tells the newspaper. "This is simply too hard, and we have to work in a different way." The Times collects a similar quote from chef David Kinch, who just closed his Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, California (like Noma, it had three Michelin stars). "Fine dining is at a crossroads, and there have to be huge changes," he says. "The whole industry realizes that, but they do not know how it's going to come out."
The Journal adds that sky-high prices these days (a single meal at Noma costs $500, at minimum) may be keeping patrons away. Noma, for its part, thinks the future lies in being a test kitchen. "In 2025, our restaurant is transforming into a giant lab—a pioneering test kitchen dedicated to the work of food innovation and the development of new flavors, one that will share the fruits of our efforts more widely than ever before," says the website statement, per the AP. The restaurant also plans to sell resulting products online. (Read more Noma stories.)