A Look Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Menu
Noma Mexico is shining a spotlight on the depth of Mexican cuisine by showcasing the country’s best little known ingredients.
René Redzepi is nothing without his ingredients. Though not the first to champion a close relationship between restaurant and farmer, menu and seasonality, chef and forager, he’s largely credited with setting off the current movement around the world. It’s little surprise then that the Noma chef would apply the same theories to his pop-up restaurant in Tulum, a stylish beach town on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast, knowing full well his ingredients would make or break his tasting menu.
So he dispatched a research team last October to scour the country. The search led his staff (some traveled more than 7000 kilometers in all) to small farmers and villagers who have been growing organic ingredients for Noma in their backyards. “It is very important that we are supporting the local farmers and producers. It is because of them and their efforts, that we are able to find such amazing produce,” says Rosio Sanchez, a former Noma pastry chef who also owns a taqueria in Copenhagen’s Torvehallerne Market. “It was a little reminder to us and people in Mexico that the amount of amazing products here is never ending.”
Getting these ingredients to the open-air restaurant, located in a tangle of jungle on Tulum’s busy Tulum-Boca Paila road, across from the upscale La Zebra beach hotel, in the necessary quantities has been no easy task. Noma Mexico has been working closely with organizations like Fondación Haciendas del Mundo Maya, a non-profit that helps support Mayan communities and their food traditions, to get ingredients from the garden to the plate. Dishes such as octopus with dzikilpak, a traditional Mayan sauce, and salbute, a puffed deep-fried tortilla garnished with chapulines (grasshoppers), showcase the country’s natural bounty, but Sanchez insists they’re not making Mexican food per se. “We took inspiration from Mexican culture and allowed the Mexican products to lead,” she says.
Indeed, a deep respect for Mexican culture emanates from every aspect of Noma Mexico, from the Mayan women in embroidered dresses who sit in front of the raised kitchen, almost like a stage, making tortillas by hand, to the Mexican made pottery and baskets used to serve.
During our meal, we got the chance to learn more about some of the most unique and delicious ingredients that make up the worth-every-penny $600 menu. Read on for a closer look.