Noma closes: article highlights difficulty sustaining 3 start Michelin

I honestly never understood how any of them could do it financially. Running a winery is hard financially - running a restaurant at that level must be almost impossible! Hats off to those who venture into that path.

relevant WB thread


It’s because there’s a ton of free labor and the government turns its back on restaurant workers. It’s not unusual for the kitchen staff to work from 8 am - 1 am. Interns are unpaid and everyone else is on salary so the extra hours are not counted. It’s miserable (speaking as someone who did it).


I wonder what is stopping him from just raising the prices to a level where he can pay his staff a decent wage? If I understand it correctly, the dinner menu is about US420 without wine. Of course that is a lot of money, but for the restaurant awarded to be best in the world multiple times, it doesn’t seem too excessive?

Location? Nor Paris or London, etc.

I was in Copenhagen about 15 years ago and wanted to meet the Danish wine crew there for dinner. They said it wasn’t worth it. The kind of place that you would go to once, but not return, because their was too much weirdo fru-fru food that you could brag about eating, but not actually enjoy. We did not go, so I can’t give you my own opinion.

Not Michelin dining, but we were recently in Mississippi and our server was paid 2.40 an hour, relying on tips for the rest.

You don’t run the restaurant for profit. You write cookbooks. That’s where the money is made. And abuse your staff and not pay 75% of them because they are “interns”.
I have a few friends who are cooking at that level and I’ve never met more burnt out folks in my life. The sad fact is that for 98% of them the dream of being a “Noma/whatever grad, and then becoming a successful chef” never materializes.

Can’t compare, they (often) make a living wage based on tips.

No tips in most of European restaurants, and the few that take them, they don’t go to your waiter anyway. When Duyen says they are unpaid, that’s exactly what it means. Unpaid. Zero. Zilch. That server in Mississippi makes $2.40/hr more than they do.

Sounds like wineries. I know of a ton that have given up in just the short time I’ve been doing it.

Yep, you’re correct, Mikko. I got paid $0.00 on top of having to pay out of pocket to move to Menton, France during the high season (summer time) and paying for monthly Airbnbs because I couldn’t find an apartment that would rent out to a foreigner for 3 months.

To be honest, that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was that I was given two aprons with the restaurant’s name on them. I worked from 8 am-1 am, 5 days a week which meant I needed to wash them mid-week. After work, I would stick it in the washing machine in my tiny studio so I would sleep with it running. There wasn’t a dryer so even if I woke up at 3 am to hang it, it would still be wet the next morning. So on my 45-minute walk to the restaurant (very limited public transportation in this French town), I would carry my apron, hoping it would dry by the time I got there. It would still be wet, so I just had to wear a wet apron for the first 2 hours of work. Meanwhile, there was a locker room full of aprons, but I could only have two.

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You said Menton, I assume this was at Mirazur?
That’s just as bad as I’ve heard. Pure abuse.

A bit of a personal question if I may. When you went to work there, was your aspiration to “graduate” from there and eventually open your own restaurant? Or what’s the average career plan for people who cook at that level in those intern positions?

Bingo. It was a terrible experience. As I was changing out on my last day, I left my notebook in the locker room and realized there wasn’t anything that I learned from there that I wanted to take with me. Arpège on the other hand was an absolute dream. The hours were the same but I learned so much and I was treated with a lot of respect.

I started cooking professionally at 25 which is late. I was working with chefs who started when they were 16 so I felt like I needed to fast-track my process. This is why I went to culinary school in Paris and I figured if I was going to move to another country and learn a new language, I might as well see how high I can go.

I didn’t have a real plan, I just wanted to learn from “the best”. My goal was to open a restaurant but to be honest, I was getting burnt out. 9 am to midnight are normal chef hours over there and I would spend my weekends sleeping, doing laundry, sharpening my knives, and mentally preparing for the next week. Once France went through its second lockdown, I decided to change careers. I’m a wine importer now but I have a private dinner series in LA where I do a 5-course tasting menu with a wine pairing. I limit it to once or twice a month and I get to cook on my own terms. I wouldn’t go back to a professional kitchen.

one of - if not the - most favorite of my restaurants. if you have the time, do you mind writing about your experience at Arpege? there are more than a handful of fans on this site. thank you in advance! (and sorry about your experience at Mirazur)

I think this is a beautiful potential trend, I wish you much success and satisfaction!