At a gala in Trondheim, Norway last night, the Michelin guide continued what has become peculiar annual tradition. The gastronome bible announced which restaurants in its Nordic edition (covering Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) would receive stars, and once again it failed to award Noma three.
In fact, no other restaurants would ascend to Michelin’s highest ranks in the five countries the Nordic guide covers. The big winners on the night were the four restaurants promoted to two stars: Jordnaer in Denmark, Re-Naa in Norway, Aloë in Sweden and Copenhagen’s Alchemist, the theatrical, experimental 50-course restaurant from chef Rasmus Munk.
Michelin also awarded seven restaurants their first star: Inari in Finland, Dill in Iceland, Etoile in Sweden, and Bare, Omakase by Vladimir Pak, Speilsalen and Under in Norway. The latter restaurant, Under, serves a $430 tasting menu and its dining room is submerged beneath sea.
Noma 2.0 held pat at two stars as it did last year when Michelin first had the opportunity to judge René Redzepi’s new iteration of his groundbreaking restaurant. Failing to recognize Noma for so long has been a strange, almost defiant move by Michelin. Despite it being crowned No. 1 by the World’s 50 Best four times, the Gallic guide seems allergic to Noma and its outsized impact on the world of fine dining. “Noma is very influential in food and restaurant aesthetics,” Corey Lee of Michelin three-star Benu in San Francisco previously told Robb Report. “If you look at that shift from something that looked very manipulated—that defied the normal kinds of cooking—to something that was all about being very natural and organic, almost like it was unearthed from somewhere, I associate that shift with Noma.”
In 2016, the first Danish restaurant to receive a third Michelin star was Rasmus Kofoed’s Geranium, which retained its three stars again this year. “The Nordic region had never had a three-star Michelin restaurant. The question was will it ever? It wasn’t something we expected, which is the best way to get it,” Kofoed told Robb Report. “It was a great day. It’s nice to chase something, even if you don’t know what it is, but the motivation will never come from the Michelin star.”
Upon visiting Geranium, the fact it earned three stars before its Scandinavian peers actually makes sense when you consider the organization handing out the award. Although Kofoed is channeling his Danish roots in his food, his style and the restaurant’s atmosphere feels more modern European than New Nordic.
Of course, Michelin has eventually warmed up to Scandinavia. Oslo’s Maaemo has three stars, as does Bjorn Frantzén’s eponymous Stockholm spot, which earned Sweden’s first-ever three-star rating. However, Noma 2.0’s format—where it drastically overhauls its menu three times a year—may make it harder to grab Michelin’s top rating, as the guide prizes consistency in its recommendations.
If Redzepi is fazed by the lack of three stars, he hasn’t let on. In fact, he wasn’t in Norway to receive Noma’s two stars. Instead he’s in Mexico on sabbatical, celebrating all the mangoes, pig skin and candy he finds along the way.