Claus Meyer, NOMA and the Nordic Food Revolution, by John McKenna

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Meyers Bakery at Roskilde Festival

Manifestos are considered old hat these days. Where they might have fitted Marx and Engels and the Futurists or the Dogme filmmakers, there is a feeling that, in the age of Occupy, manifestos leave too much out.

Who can sum up the aspirations of citizens and movements in a few lines? And, of course, we expect political manifestos to be traduced as soon as their authors actually get into office.

But Claus Meyer and his colleagues in the New Nordic Cuisine started their journey with a 10-point manifesto, and it has stood them well over the last decade. Truthfully, though, Mr Meyer and his friends, such as his NOMA co-founder Rene Redzepi, could have summed it all up in one line.

Watch the Youtube film of Mr Meyer at the Roskilde Festival, as he makes his audience laugh and chant and shout, and it can all come down to a single refrain: “White bread is shit!”. Meyer and his team set their face against the horrors of both the dire Danish food he was brought up on, and the dire industrialised food that is everywhere today. White bread was the enemy.

Using this mantra has allowed Mr Meyer and his crew to build a soaringly successful food empire in just 10 years. In addition to NOMA – daily covers in NOMA: 80. Monthly requests for a seat in NOMA? 100,000 – Meyer runs scores of canteens, restaurants, bakeries, a vinegar brewery, and his Melting Pot Foundation has just opened a restaurant in one of Latin America’s poorest countries, Bolivia.

He makes it all seem so simple, and he works by a simple method: win, win, win. This isn’t win at all cost, however. In fact, it’s the opposite. When Meyer is trying to get something to happen, he makes sure everyone involved can come away feeling that they have won. He is not after exclusive success: he is after mutual success. The New Nordic Cuisine Manifesto urges co-operation “for the benefit and advantage of everyone in the Nordic countries”. Given the success of NOMA and his other schemes, everyone should read the NNC Manifesto. It’s a game changer.