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How Denmark Became a Foodie Destination with 31 Michelin Stars

Picture of Aliki Seferou
Updated: 2 May 2018
Denmark is nowadays considered one of the top destinations for foodies, but several years ago Nordic cuisine was completely unknown. So, what changed over the past 15 years that made this small Scandinavian country a popular gastronomic destination? Noma restaurant and the reinvention of Nordic cuisine.

How did Noma make Denmark a popular gastronomy destination?

It was in 2003 that Claus Meyer and René Redzepi joined forces and opened Noma, a high-end restaurant that would change Copenhagen’s culinary scene and put Denmark on the map as a food destination.

Before opening Noma, Meyer and Redzepi became established chefs, but in the early 2000s, they decided to change Danes’ food habits and reinvent the Nordic cuisine by creating dishes made solely of seasonal vegetables and indigenous products. That may not sound very revolutionary, but using local and seasonal vegetables all year round in a country that experiences long and cold winters during which very few things survive is a real challenge. Therefore, many gastronomy experts had questioned this initiative and had claimed that the new Nordic movement would fail. Despite doubts from the outside world, Meyer managed to not only create one of the world’s best restaurants but he also brought Copenhagen’s culinary scene to the foreground, inspiring both local and international chefs.

Noma won two Michelin stars in 2008 and has been named ‘Best Restaurant in the World’ by Restaurant magazine four times. Thanks to well-deserved success, Copenhagen went from being just another Scandinavian city to a foodie destination worth world-class food.

15 years and 31 Michelin stars later

Many chefs were inspired by Noma and Meyer’s manifesto, so for the past 15 years, many Nordic restaurants have opened all over Denmark, serving delicacies made with local and organic ingredients.

Geranium, a three-star Michelin restaurant in Copenhagen, Paul Cunningham’s Michelin-starred Henne Kirkeby Kro in west Jutland, MeMu in Vejle, Jutland and Gastromé in Aarhus are only four of the country’s many critically acclaimed restaurants that occupy the top place on foodies’ lists. Up until recently, gastro-tourists travelled to Copenhagen to get a proper taste of the new Nordic cuisine but today, other Danish towns such as Aarhus and Bornholm have been put on the map as culinary destinations.

While Noma may be the restaurant that paved the way for the country’s gastronomy scene to bloom, Denmark is still considered one of the top countries for food lovers. Mainly because of the boasting 31 Michelin stars and hundreds of more notable restaurants that are run by world-class chefs.