How Noma's Surroundings Influence Its Menu

"One of my first childhood memories is waking up to the sound of my father pushing the coals around in the kitchen's wood-fired oven in Macedonia," Noma's Rene Redzepi told Epicurious. "It's autumn, and we'd been out the day before collecting chestnuts...for breakfast we have the chestnuts that he roasted for us with whole milk." Perhaps these early experiences instilled a love for natural ingredients that has guided Redzepi's culinary curiosity. Known for seasonal tasting menus made from foraged and fermented ingredients, Noma has helped push Nordic cuisine into international fame and "put the light in the Nordic terroir and its treasures," Parabere Forum's Maria Canabal told CNN.

Diners Anders and Kaitlin have experienced the hype for themselves, having sampled all three of Noma's tasting menus: Game & Forest, Vegetable, and Seafood. The two described Noma's vegetable tasting menu as "mind-blowing and game-changing," and the plant-based experience was so masterfully presented, the pair didn't notice the absence of meat or seafood on their plates. But it is more than presentation and ingredients that have brought Noma incomparable accolades.

Inspired by natural landscapes

Redzepi has looked to natural landscapes to guide his culinary undertakings, and his muse has been the Scandinavian landscape (per Audi USA). "We have heard so often that the way our food is organized on the plate looks like a landscape, which is true, but the plating happens quite naturally because our first inspiration is always from where we get the food," Redzepi said in an interview with Fast Company

While many chefs aim to create unforgettable meals, Redzepi's goal is more defined. "What you should experience is a pure and clear sense of time and place: what time of the year are we in and where are we in the world –- that became our mantra, so to speak," Redzepi told the 2012 Design Indaba Conference. This mantra has helped Noma connect dinners with the world around them. As explained to Wall Street Journal, Redzepi is keenly aware of nature's seasonal changes and how the weather impacts products; this directs menu-planning and how to best showcase the places from which Noma's ingredients are sourced.

As Noma nears its 20th year, Redzepi has something new on the horizon. "It is good to know that big changes are happening," he told Food & Wine. We'll be watching.