Noma, the vaunted Copenhagen temple of New Nordic cuisine and one of the finest restaurants in the world, celebrated its final day in its original space at Strandgade 93 last Friday, February 24th. The restaurant is closing while it prepares to relocate to a new space, and is scheduled to reopen in early December. On Saturday, head chef René Redzepi threw a closing party for 250 staff members and guests.
In a speech given at the party, Redzepi revealed the names of three new Noma partners, the CPH Post reports. Among them is Ali Sonko, a 62-year-old Gambian native who’s been a dishwasher at the restaurant since it first opened in 2003. Sonko first gained fame in 2010, when Noma was first named the world’s best restaurant: He wasn’t able to join the team in London for the World’s 50 Best awards ceremony because he couldn’t get a visa. In his absence, the other members of the restaurant’s staff wore t-shirts bearing Sonko’s photograph onstage at the ceremony.
“Ali is Noma’s soul. I do not think people understand how much it means to have someone in the house like Ali, who is always happy and smiling, no matter how it’s going with his 12 children,” the CPH Post quotes Redzepi as saying in his speech. Redzepi also mentioned that his own father worked as a dishwasher when he first moved to Denmark.
The two other new partners are service director Lau Richter, who’s also been with the restaurant since its beginning, and James Spreadbury, who’s been its manager for the past eight years.