Why American Express Is Refunding Diners For Their $700 Noma Meals

Ever since it was first declared the world's best restaurant in 2010, Noma has been one of the most legendary names in fine dining, Eater reports. It also received the accolade again in 2011, 2012, 2014, and most recently in 2021. It might be understating things to say that New York gourmands were thrilled when Noma head chef René Redzepi announced that he was bringing his dining experience to the Big Apple for a five-night residency. But those diners have now had their expenses repaid, courtesy of American Express, after Redzepi tested positive for COVID-19.

Noma originally opened in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2003, and after years of defining its "time and place" style of Nordic cuisine was named World's Best Restaurant for the first time (via Britannica). After closing the original restaurant in 2016, Redzepi took his dining experience on the road, and adapted the Noma ethos in Tokyo, Japan, Sydney, Australia, and Tulum, Mexico. Fine Dining Lovers notes that Noma was given its coveted third Michelin star in 2021 after reopening in Copenhagen in 2018. Redzepi announced plans for the New York City dining experience back in April. The residency was scheduled for five nights from May 16 to May 20. Only 50 lucky diners would get to sample the $700 per person tasting menu each night. Now those diners are enjoying their dinner for free.

René Redzepi was unable to make an appearance

The New York Times reported that American Express had alerted diners that René Redzepi had tested positive for COVID-19 on May 16, the first night of the experience. Because of these results, Redzepi would not be appearing as planned at the New York event. Instead, chef Thomas Frebel would run the kitchen with Noma co-owner Peter Kreiner for the week. Neither they, nor the rest of the staff, had recently been in close contact with Redzepi, and have continued to operate in his absence.

Redzepi did make a virtual appearance via a welcome video that preceded the dinner. Even so, due to Redzepi's absence, the event sponsor American Express Platinum Presents refunded all diners the full $700 cost of their meal. The meal consisted of a tasting menu making use of locally-sourced New York produce, as well as Noma favorites from similar past dining experiences. Diners were hosted in a warehouse in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dumbo. Each course was paired with a wine selection, and attendees were gifted a small bowl by the ceramist Katrine Binzer.