The Lowdown: Noma Projects

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

The team behind Noma’s retail arm will be in London next month

Related tags Noma Rene Redzepi Noma Projects Kol

The team behind Noma’s retail arm will be in London next month to showcase a range of new products.

Didn’t this all launch a while back - why are we talking about it now? 
The Noma Projects team are in London for their first ever collaboration with a UK venue. Early next month (10 September), an event is being held at Marylebone’s KOL that will see its chef patron Santiago Lastra (a Noma alumnus) team up with Noma Projects chef and creative director Thomas Frebel (pictured above) to create a menu that marries KOL’s Mexico-meets-British-ingredients ethos with Noma Projects’ ‘latest innovations’. For those that aren't aware, Noma Projects is essentially the retail arm of groundbreaking Copenhagen restaurant Noma. Officially launched last year, the website offers a small selection of products developed by the Noma team alongside recipes.  

What’s going to be on the menu at KOL? 
That info has yet to be released, but the event will showcase two new Noma Projects products - Wild Rose Vinegar and Forager’s Vinaigrette - as well as preview Corn Yuzu Hot Sauce, which is yet to launch. The latter is described as ‘a fiery blend of roasted habanero, sweet corn and Japanese citrus’ that has been ‘dreamt up by the Noma test kitchen for the purpose of giving everyday dining a unique hit of heat’. Later in the day, the Noma Projects team will decamp to Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Lyaness cocktail bar on South Bank to collaborate on a menu that ‘blurs the lines between food and drink’. 

Who are these products actually for? 
Professional chefs and deep-pocketed domestic gastro nerds, it appears. They certainly aren’t cheap, but then again they are handmade by the team behind one of the world’s most famous restaurants. A 250ml bottle of Forager’s Vinaigrette costs £24 and 175ml of Vegan XO Sauce will set you back £33. Noma Project’s first and most famous product - a bottle of Smoked Mushroom Garum that nearly broke the internet when it launched in 2021 - is a slightly-more-affordable £21 for 250ml. It’s made by brewing organic mushrooms with salt and rice koji for six to eight weeks and then cold smoking it.

That sounds quite involved. Who is using it? 
That product was sent out to a number of high-profile UK chefs who dutifully posted it on their social media channels under the hashtag ‘ultimaterestaurantswag’ (or something like that). It’s not clear whether these products are intended to feature on restaurant menus, but the small packaging formats offered would suggest they are not. 

Do any other top restaurants offer anything similar? 
High-reaching restaurants having a retail arm is very common these days. But it tends to be cookbooks, merchandise and curated products made by other people that feature rather than things made by the restaurant itself. That said, more and more famous restaurants are seeing the value of giving customers access to some of the key products they use in their own kitchens, not least Gareth Ward’s Ynyshir, which regularly ‘drops’ the building blocks of its cuisine.

What is going on at Noma itself?
René Redzepi says he will close his Copenhagen restaurant at the end of next year before reopening it as a food lab. With a remit to develop new flavours, products and culinary ideas, Noma 3.0 is likely to be closely linked to Noma Projects. However, the chef says that the Noma team will continue to offer restaurant-like experiences. “Is there somewhere we must go in the world to learn? Then we will do a Noma pop-up,” he says. “And when we’ve gathered enough new ideas and flavors, we will do a season in Copenhagen. Serving guests will still be a part of who we are, but being a restaurant will no longer define us.” Noma 4.0 here we come.

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