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Noma’s Trompe l’Oeil Dishes Are the Dad Jokes of the Fine Dining World

René Redzepi proves that any food can look like something it’s not if your kitchen team works hard enough at it

Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Congratulations to world-renowned chef René Redzepi for proving that the Venn diagram for “dad jokes about food” and “intensely technical cooking” is, in fact, a circle.

At Noma, the chef’s Copenhagen fine-dining restaurant widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in the world, Redzepi has long worked from the theory that his food should express a sense of time and place. Given his propensity for making food that looks like other foods, it’s clear he also wants his food to express a sense of humor.

Here now, the finest moments of trompe l’oeil from Noma’s reopening early last year:

This malt flatbread looks like a crab shell, and came topped with crab meat.

This might look like a dead beetle in an entomologist’s display box, but it’s really a jelly bite made from blackberry and flowers.

These starfish are actually saffron cardamom caramels, and look at how bumpy they are. They even have a white-ish bottom like real starfish.

These duck feet are actually toffee and they were served for dessert at Noma. Very goth, very dead-bird chic.

We can fight about whether this counts as true trompe l’oeil but there’s no way anyone seeing this beauty for the first time would have guessed this shawarma was made from celeriac.

This is a flower pot you can cut down the center with a knife. Because it’s not actually a flower pot it’s a cake.

@reneredzepinoma [Instagram]