Rene Redzepi is uprooting his acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant Noma, and relocating it to Australia.
It is yet another surprise move from the man commonly called the most influential chef in the world, and follows a sell-out five week relocation of the restaurant in Tokyo in early 2015.
Not so much a fly-in, fly-out pop-up ( a dime a dozen these days), Noma Australia promises to be more of a restaurant in residence. Redzepi is bringing his entire restaurant staff – 35 chefs, 30 wait staff and 10 administrative staff to the Barangaroo Sydney site. Partners and children will come along as well, totalling close to 100 people.
So what can Sydney expect from the most famous Danish restaurant in the world – four times number one on the World's 50 Best restaurants list – when it opens in late January?
"Lots of energy and enthusiasm," says Rene Redzepi, currently in Australia on his fourth research trip to meet producers, make connections and source ingredients. "We're all very excited to try the Australian lifestyle."
Since opening Noma in 2003, the 37 year-old has transformed Scandinavia into the cutting edge of gastronomy, and changed the nature of dining across the world by focusing on the connection with nature and wild food.
In a not altogether surprising move (the chef has been posting images of Australian conch shells, mussels and straight, flat highways on Instagram to his 150,000 followers for a couple of weeks now), the ingredients used will be Australian, and the menu inspired by the shoreline.
Diners can expect shellfish, wild fish, sea succulents, seaweeds, and even, he says, sea birds, as well as native spices, herbs and grasses. While he won't be bringing cloudberries, sea buckthorn and other foraged Danish ingredients with him, he is expected to bring his arsenal of fermenting, pickling, smoking, drying, salting and curing techniques. Redzepi is also building a 2.5 metre long barbecue in the restaurant to evoke the clean, searing heat of the Australian outdoor grill.
Noma Australia will seat just 50 diners, and be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday, for the 10 week period from late January, 2016. It will be tucked in to a virgin space negotiated with Lendlease, part of the organically shaped Anadara residential building within the 22 hectare, $6 billion Barangaroo precinct on the western harbourside edge of the city. "It's almost like Noma in that it is five metres from the harbour. Except one is in the north of the world, and now we are in the south of the world," says Redzepi.
Gary Horwitz, Head of Retail at Lendlease said that with Redzepi's strong focus on sustainability, "it's the perfect fit for our vision for the waterfront dining precinct at Barangaroo."
Tourism Australia is also supporting the project, ensuring Redzepi and his research chefs, Australian-born Beau Clugston and German-born Thomas Frebel, are exposed to the best of the country's food and wine from every state and territory. John O'Sullivan, Managing Director of Tourism Australia has little doubt the reputation that Redzepi and Noma enjoy internationally will prove a huge tourism drawcard. "Rene has already said that the ingredients will be locally sourced and that the menu will have a strong Australian flavour, which gives us a wonderful opportunity to showcase the best of our country's food and our wines to the world."
Bookings for the restaurant will open later this year, although keen diners can register their interest at noma.dk/australia. If it's anything like the pop-up venture in Tokyo earlier this year, it will sell out in hours, in spite of an estimated $400 to $500 price per person, food only. And what will that get you? What with the cuisine of the shoreline and the glowing coals of the grill, it sounds very much as if the most influential chef in the world will be throwing a shrimp on the barbie.