Gone are the days that an ambitious young chef seeks out Guy Savoy or Michel Bras or a Michelin three-star restaurant in Paris to do a stage that makes their CV look fancier. Nowadays, you need to be able to claim having done some time with René Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen in order to feel cool. At least that’s what we’ve learned today via both Adam Platt’s review of New York’s Atera, run by a Noma alum, and a piece in the Wall Street Journal about all the ex-Noma cooks (Nomads?) who have spread around the U.S. and the world opening up new, geographically specific restaurants in a similar vein — including recent Food & Wine Best New Chef honoree Blaine Wetzel of the Willows Inn, on Lummi Island near Seattle.
In short, René Redzepi’s restaurant is a de rigeur stop for everyone, and plenty of younger chefs do a one-month, or even just a two-week stage, sorting leaves and twigs for a few hours so they can say they were there. “I get ten requests a week [for stages] from around the world,” David Kinch told Lucky Peach recently. “[And of] those ten requests a week? Couple of them always have a month-long stage at Noma on the resume. No shit.”
So long as Noma holds its position at the top of the S. Pellegrino list of the best restaurants in the world, the trend is likely to continue. And Noma “alums” will quickly become a dime a dozen.