Can’t get a table at Noma? Go to a restaurant from its alumni


27 Feb 2018

Rene Redzepi’s world-famous Noma restaurant in Copenhagen reopened just last week after almost a year of being closed. It’s landed on top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list four times and earned just about all the accolades a restaurant could possibly get. Beyond the awards, the Danish restaurant has rocked the culinary scene since Redzepi first opened it in 2003, redefining Nordic cuisine and inspiring an ever-growing roster of disciples who bring his culinary style into their kitchens around the world. Over the years, Noma’s young talents have gone on to launch impressive culinary projects of their own. Here, where to find some of the restaurant’s noteworthy alumni.

Rosio Sanchez

Sanchez and Hija de Sanchez, Copenhagen
Sanchez honed her skills as the pastry chef at Noma then went solo after five years. In 2015, she opened her takeaway taco stand, Hija de Sanchez, in Copenhagen’s popular Torvehallerne Market and then launched a second location in 2016 in the Kødbyen neighborhood. Last year, she decamped to Mexico with Redzepi to run Noma’s Tulum pop-up restaurant and then returned to Copenhagen to open her first sit-down restaurant, Sanchez.

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Christian Puglisi and Kim Rossen
Relae, Manfreds, Baest, Cafe Mirabelle, Copenhagen

The former Noma sous chef (Puglisi) and former assistant restaurant manager (Rossen), founded of one of Copenhagen’s other most noteworthy restaurants, Relae (opened in 2010), and the natural wine bar Manfreds just down the street, along with Baest pizzeria and Mirabelle. Relae has racked up many of the culinary world’s top honors over the years, including a Michelin star and a spot on the World’s 50 Best list, for its no-nonsense approach to New Nordic cuisine.

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Matt and Julie Bergstrom, Orlando
Amass, Copenhagen

The husband-and-wife team, formerly the head chef (Matt) and a waiter (Julie) at Noma, parted ways with Redzepi to open their own restaurant project called Amass. Matt, who is originally from California and gained experience at top dining establishments like Le Bernardin, Aureole, and Per Se in New York and the Fat Duck in England, cooks up a seasonally-inspired, Nordic-style tasting menu that draws from whatever is growing in the restaurant’s garden. (The restaurant was organic-certified in 2016—nearly all dishes and drinks at Amass are organic and free of pesticides.) Julie, who also worked at Per Se, is the co-owner and restaurant manager at Amass. The two have assembled a staff that’s full of ex-Noma employees. “I am a regular; it is probably my favorite restaurant in Copenhagen,” Redzepi said of Amass in a New York Times interview last year. “I think Amass is Copenhagen at its best right now.”

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James Knappett and Sandia Chang
Bubbledogs and Kitchen Table, London

Like the Orlando duo, James Knappett and his wife Sandia Chang both had stints at Noma (as well as Per Se in New York, where they met) before moving on to start their champagne-and-hot-dogs bar, Bubbledogs, in 2012, followed by Kitchen Table in London. The 19-seat Kitchen Table, hidden in the back of Bubbledogs, was awarded a Michelin star in 2014 for Knappett’s use of top-quality ingredients and distinctive flavors in the multi-course experience built around 12 dishes. Sandia, for her part, has curated an impressive list of grower Champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world that’s received recognition globally.

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Mads Refslund

Formerly of Acme, new project coming soon
The original co-founder of Noma helped to boost the Nordic food revolution the U.S. when he decamped to New York in 2011 and helmed the kitchen at the downtown restaurant Acme. He’s done various pop-up restaurant stints since leaving his post there, and reportedly has a new Brooklyn restaurant concept in the works right now with investment from Noma co-founder Claus Meyer.

Blaine Wetzel, The Willows Inn, Lummi Island, Washington

Blaine Wetzel, former chef-de-partie at Noma, now heads the kitchen at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island in Washington. The Washington state native and author of Sea and Smoke: Flavors from the Untamed Pacific Northwest has earned numerous accolades since landing at The Willows Inn, including Food & Wine’s Best New Chef of 2012, the 2014 James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year, and 2015’s Best Chef Northwest.

Daniel Burns, Burns Gelato, coming soon

The former pastry chef at Noma (who is also an alum of Momofuku’s culinary lab) went solo with Luksus (situated in the back of Brooklyn beer bar Tørst in 2013). The next year, Luksus became the first restaurant ever to earn a Michelin star without a wine or liquor menu. He closed out his tasting menu program at Tørst in 2016 and has since been working on new projects, including his new gelato company, Burns Gelato.

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