Not long ago, food from Scandinavia was considered something of a punchline. Dining enthusiasts assumed the best one could get on a Nordic plate was a chunk of dried walrus blubber or a fried carrot.
How times have changed. From Los Angeles to London, the tenets of the New Nordic Movement—locally sourced, health-conscious, fearlessly inventive—have infiltrated many of the world’s most renowned restaurants.
It started with Noma, the now-famous eatery launched in 2004 in Copenhagen. Occupying a 19th-century warehouse with an unassuming, rustic exterior, its focus has been on reinventing Danish cuisine by cutting out foreign fluff. Noma co-founder Claus Meyer drew up a manifesto, aspiring to nothing short of a new Nordic culinary culture. Due to the region’s long winters, pickling, preserving, smoking, and salting have become common.
Noma has received two Michelin stars and was ranked “the World’s Best Restaurant” several times. Most importantly, chefs around the globe have absorbed the principles of Meyer’s New Nordic Movement and applied them to their own cooking, often beautifully.
At Gustu, a restaurant Meyer opened in 2013 in La Paz, Bolivia, head chef and native Bolivian Marsia Taha sees the New Nordic philosophy as a means to show off her own country’s cuisine. “Part of our mission is to boost a sense of national pride for what Bolivia is and what Bolivia produces,” Taha says. That starts with exactly what the New Nordic Movement emphasizes: “Simplicity, elegance, and respect for each product, whose history we have the commitment to tell, as well as preserving the cultural and ancestral significance in each dish,” she says.