The New Noma 2.0 Cookbook Does Not Contain Any Recipes

You’ll find gorgeously photographed dishes in the new book from famed restaurant Noma but no way to actually cook them.
Trout roe shaped like a starfish on a white plate sitting on a gray background.
Trout Roe and Egg Yolk.Photograph by Ditte Isager. Excerpted from Noma 2.0 by René Redzepi and Mette Søberg (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2022. 

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The newest cookbook from esteemed Copenhagen-based restaurant Noma is sure to thrill haute cuisine nerds with hundreds of pages of editorial-style food photography and an introduction that features founder René Redzepi’s reflections on nearly 20 years of Noma. Typical Noma fare like Wax Broth and Chocolate-Covered Moss (you know, casual finger foods) will take center stage in this latest publication from the Noma team. The one thing missing from this 352-page “cookbook”? Recipes. 

Founded in 2003 by Claus Meyer and René Redzepi, Noma is regarded as one of the most innovative restaurants in the world. It holds three Michelin stars and has bounced around the top of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for over a decade. There’s a bit of a cult around it, with the idea that it serves not just food but “gastronomic experiences.” 

Mallard Wing.Photograph by Ditte Isager. Excerpted from Noma 2.0 by René Redzepi and Mette Søberg (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2022. 

The newest cookbook, released in November, is called Noma 2.0, in reference to the second incarnation of the restaurant. The three previous cookbooks from the Noma team follow a more traditional format—meaning that they have ingredient lists and detailed recipes for the home cook to follow—but Noma 2.0 features “beautiful prose” instead, according to a representative from the book’s publisher. 

Noma 2.0: Vegetable, Forest, Ocean

If “beautiful prose” was not what you had in mind when you committed to purchasing a $75 cookbook, rest assured that readers will be able to access recipes via a QR code within the book. Dishes include “Moldy Asparagus” and “Potatoes Cooked in Soil;” the former appears to be two long stalks of asparagus, white and furry with mold, while the latter comes in a flower pot. In the place of step by step instructions, Noma 2.0 features dramatic photography accompanied by austere paragraphs with descriptions of how the dishes come together. “Trimmed artichoke leaves and hearts are cooked separately in truffle juice, seasoned with a few pieces of roasted kelp salt,” reads a passage entitled “Boiled Artichoke.”

For the cookbook buyer hoping to actually cook from their cookbooks, this will sound absurd. But for fans of Noma, this is…maybe right on track? The whole point of going to Noma is that you can’t make the food at home, and even in the previous cookbooks that do feature recipes, they’re not really achievable for the home cook. See: Mutsu Apples and Reindeer Tongue or Trash Cooking with Leeks (?!). 

Rose Terra Cotta.Photograph by Ditte Isager. Excerpted from Noma 2.0 by René Redzepi and Mette Søberg (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2022. 

As Andrew Genung noted in his newsletter Family Meal, Redzepi explained his thinking behind this latest cookbook during a guest appearance on The David Chang Show. “I’m very tired that everything, when it comes to food, has to be—I’m not going to say dumbed down,” he said, “but why can’t you be allowed to say ‘this is our work, this is how we do things’? Why does everything have to be done in a home kitchen?” He added that including recipes, some of which could run as long as 17 pages, would have doubled the book's size and made it nearly 700 pages.

Although it’s a new formula for Noma, the untraditional format of Noma 2.0 is a logical step for a restaurant that has made a name for itself by pushing the boundaries of what diners will pay (extravagantly) for. As a restaurant billed as the “best in the world,” a reservation at Noma has long stood as a status symbol in itself—a signal to others that you can not only afford the nearly $500 price tag, but that you’re thrilled to spend that kind of money if it means experiencing even a morsel of Redzepi’s creativity. 

This newest release occupies a similar space to that of Noma the restaurant: half dining experience, half experiential art piece. Will home cooks be throwing together a quick Crispy Bee Larvae and Caramelized Chocolate for their next dinner party? Probably not, but the Noma 2.0 tome will certainly work as a coffee table conversation piece that signifies to guests your insider status in the absurd and beautiful world of haute cuisine.