Nordic Food Lab: three-way gastronomic research

Seven years ago, the founders of Noma restaurant, René Redzepi and Claus Meyer, in their efforts to enhance Scandinavian gastronomic culture, took a step toward interdisciplinarity. They opened a laboratory that would be responsible for taking cooking techniques from around the world to explore the potential of regional products. They called it Nordic Food Lab and they integrated a further two perspectives: scientific and humanistic.

The Nordic Food Lab is a non-profit and open source institution. In November 2014, it moved its headquarters to a boat near the restaurant at the site of the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen. It remained an independent centre but this move has allowed them to expand their research tools and their exchange with the Academy. This freedom has given them funding from the government, private companies and independent foundations like The Velux or The Nordea Foundation.

"By taking inspiration from humanities, sciences and arts, we undertake work which other research facilities, rooted in one side of the arbitrary science/craft divide, might not attempt", says their manifesto. NFL's work revolves around the diversity "of autochthonous genetic material, of organisms, of cultural practices, of ideas" as they believing this is what keeps the world strong and robust.

All this without losing their focus on flavour as they acknowledge that research into what is edible, has to involve what is delicious. And therefore, they acknowledge and value as many perspectives as possible.