Noma goes to… Mexico?

Author: Pat Nourse
Photography: Andrew Finlayson

We definitely don't have the inside running on Noma doing its next pop-up in Mexico. It's definitely not something we would report as fact. And given that we don't report rumours as stories, we definitely can't say that it looks likely to be in Tulum, the beach resort town on the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean coast.

René Redzepi and the Noma gang are of course busy closing the chapter of Noma on its current Copenhagen site before they move it next year to its new urban-farm setting near the neighbourhood of Christiania. But a gap of some months looms between February 2017, when the restaurant is set to close, and its slated late-summer opening. And in those months you might just see a Noma of sorts appear in Mexico.

Mexico is a powerful fascination for Redzepi. He has spoken of his interest in its biodiversity and ancient food cultures, and has holidayed extensively in Tulum and Mérida. His love of tacos has been documented at some length, and he threw his support behind Hija de Sanchez, the taquería opened in Copenhagen by his former pastry chef Rosio Sánchez (and also helped her cook tacos for the World's 50 Best after-party at The Clove Club in London in 2015).

Our sources on the ground in Mexico say that if it goes ahead, the pop-up will "definitely be Tulum", which chimes with Redzepi's interest in the Yucatán peninsula. "The people, the beaches, that rare feeling of being allowed to disconnect - it's more than enough to make the journey worthwhile," he wrote last year in his foreword to Hartwood, the cookbook from the celebrated Tulum restaurant. "I am a mega-fan of Mexican cuisine. I love tasting the layers of history in the food… When I've been working so hard I can't tell if it's day or night, and I know I need to take a break even though I don't have the time, this is the place I dream about."

Mexico would be the third full-scale iteration of the restaurant outside Denmark. In 2015 Noma popped up for a five-week run in Tokyo, while the Sydney version of the restaurant wowed diners at Barangaroo for 10 weeks at the beginning of this year.

These are not small undertakings. They're not guest-chef appearances, with a couple of staff flying out to bash out the restaurant's greatest hits. For the Australia adventure, the entire Noma team, from its waiters to its dishwashers, made the journey to Sydney, and the menu was redesigned from scratch as a showcase for Australian ingredients.

The chance to taste new things and immerse himself and the Noma kitchen in different cultures has been, Redzepi says, a big part of why he has chosen to do these away-games, and how he has chosen their locations. With his deepening interest in farming, too, the agrarian traditions of the Yucatán Peninsula may be of particular moment to Redzepi. "The way they grow food here now is the way they grew food here 500 years ago," he told The New York Times. "These kinds of farms supply all of the markets every day, so it's astounding to realise that this kind of quality is available to everyone. That makes me extremely jealous."

Throw in the fact that Noma project leader Annika de las Heras and Noma point-man Ben Liebmann are both touring Mexico right now and you've got… what? Not a story, exactly, but plenty of reason to think that Noma might well be about to take a turn for the tropical. Stay tuned.

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