When Noma, the Danish restaurant with the title of ‘The World’s Best Restaurant’, appears in the news because of links to food poisoning, people talk.
Chef Rene Redzepi logged into his Twitter account expecting the worst after being stung by negative press headlines questioning the food hygiene at his two Michelin-starred restaurant. But, it seemed that due to a well-timed Tweet sent by Justin Bieber’s guitarist, Dan Kanter, saying ‘Coming to Denmark in one month and really hope I get to experience the world renowned cooking of @ReneRedzepiNoma!’ on 9 March, Redzepi and restaurant Noma played host to a whole new set of 'Belieber' Twitter followers, rather than falling prey to bug-related gibes.
The restaurant, which has been voted winner of The S Pellegrino and Acqua Panna World's 50 Best Restaurants in 2010, 2011 and 2012, saw over 63 guests out of the 453 who dined there during the week of 12-16 February, fall ill with what is believed to have been the Norovirus.
Health inspectors have criticised how slowly Noma was to deal with the situation, after an email from one of their staff members reporting their sickness, went unseen. But it seems that since they’ve been in touch with the two-starred Michelin restaurant, inspectors have been happy with their cooperation.
Noma’s diners, it seems, have been less eager to reinstate the world-renowned experimental restaurant with its former glory, when the number of seats filled – usually 40, the restaurants maximum, which are booked up for months in advance – dwindled to just 12.
In 2009 British chef Heston Blumenthal was forced to close his three-star restaurant The Fat Duck for around three weeks after hundreds of guests became ill.
Food poisoning can have serious consequences for restaurants and René Redzepi knows what this blow to Noma could mean:“We’re a restaurant that’s known for perfection, and suddenly there’s a stain on us. It’s like a prize fighter who only has knockouts to his name suddenly finding himself on the floor. I know that it’s news.”
It seems that chef Redzepi is now using Twitter himself to undo some of the damage done to Noma’s name. On 10 March, chef Redzepi tweeted: ‘If you're interested in understanding how such a bug got a hold of our restaurant, this paper is a good start http://bit.ly/JhN2oa ‘. And as if the Dan Kanter’s attention diverting tweet hadn’t created enough of an ironic twist to the story, Redzepi has also re-tweeted the Time magazine’s article, titled When the World’s Top Restaurant Serves Up a Bug http://ti.me/15G5WQL - seemingly endorsing the negative press which threatens to bring down the Noma empire.