Jason White has resigned as director of fermentation for Noma. He will be CEO and co-founder of a yet-to-be-announced biotechnology company in the United States. White tells The Fermentation Association that he will share details of his new project in the coming weeks.
Regarded as one of the best restaurants in the world, Noma earned their third Michelin star last year.
This summer, Noma owner Rene Redzepi announced that 2023 – the 20th anniversary of Noma – will be “our final year with Noma as we know it.”
“We have a plan, and I can’t wait to share more with you later this year, but for now, know that big changes are happening,” Redzepi wrote on Instagram, adding it’s “our biggest transformation so far…We’ve been laying some new foundational stones so we can continue to grow as an organization for the next 20 years.”
The staff had planned to take off this fall to travel to an undisclosed (but rumored to be in Mérida, Mexico) international location to learn some new cooking techniques and open a pop-up restaurant. But both the travel and pop-up have been postponed until spring 2023 due to ongoing travel restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year Noma launched Noma Projects, a direct-to-consumer product line aimed at generating more revenue for the restaurant. In June, Bloomberg reported the restaurant was unprofitable in 2021 – the first time in four years – losing 1.69 million krone (~$225,000) after recording a small profit the prior year. Noma also received 10.9 million krone (~$1.45 million) from the Danish government in Covid-19 relief.
Noma’s previous head of the fermentation lab, David Zilber, also left the restaurant for a job in the biotech industry. He is a food scientist at Chr. Hansen.
White, who spoke at the 2nd international Food Innovation Conference this summer (produced by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI)), said fermentation is motivating scientists to listen to gastronomers.
“There’s going to be a huge exchange in this two-way road that we’re living in. Innovation in flavor coming from gastronomy and innovation coming from a high-level biotechnology, they are going to be harmonious,” White said. “We’re going to be able to create this infrastructure and community of people who have the same goal, and the same goal is going to be the wellness of our planet.”