Money makers: Noma's Mexican outing

Noma's celebrated chef, René Redzepi, has opened his latest pop-up restaurant in Mexico. But good luck getting a table, says Chris Carter.


Ren Redzepi: stuck in the kitchen

Celebrated Danish chef Ren Redzepi raised a few eyebrows when he served live insects at Claridge's in London. But not in Mexico. "No one blinks here if you eat an ant," the 38-yearold tells Bloomberg's Richard Vines. "It's like ordering a flat white." Noma is, of course, the famous restaurant in Copenhagen co-founded by Redzepi that has repeatedly been voted the best in the world.

Now Redzepi has left Scandinavia behind for the Yucatn Peninsula, where he's set up his latest pop-up eatery, Noma Mexico, in collaboration with chef Rosio Sanchez. Reservations became available this week and were expected to be snapped up in minutes.

A similar venture last year in Tokyo attracted a waiting list of 60,000 for a five-week run, while a ten-week pop-up in Sydney that same year had 27,000 outstanding requests for tables. That's in spite of the $750-per-head bill at his Mexican joint. Redzepi is planning more residencies in the future and attributes his wanderlust to missing out as a youngster. "When I was young, my friends would travel, doing drugs and having sex and learning about the world," he says. "But I was stuck in the kitchen."

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The magic of the movies

Vue cinemas boss Tim Richards is always on the lookout for ways to attract new audiences, says Alexandra Frean in The Times. It was while on a recent trip to South Korea that the Canadian was in a crowd of 65,000 spectators watching two people play a video game. "I realised that people will sit for hours to watch, cheering players on exactly like Wimbledon," says Richards. "And, most importantly, they will pay for it." So back in Britain, Richards fitted out two screens in Fulham, west London, for multiplayer video games, complete with big screens on which spectators could watch the action.

Richards, 57, is never shy about trying new things. In 1999 he quit his job at Warner Bros International to launch his own chain of cinemas, opening his first screen in Scotland a year later. Then in 2003 he secured £250m in private-equity funding to buy the Warner Village chain of 36 cinemas in Britain. Since then, Richards has expanded into Europe. And despite the "onslaught of online entertainment", he is optimistic about the future. "We are social animals and a movie is funnier, scarier or sadder when you enjoy it with other people. That will never change."

Family fortunes

"As a family, if we are not in industry, we are not grounded. Money is worthless, but work and making widgets grounds you," Andrea Bonomi, the Italian tycoon whose family "built most of Milan",tells The Sunday Times' John Collingridge. Under the control of his grandmother, Anna, known as "La Signora della Borsa" (the lady of the stock exchange), the family's holding company, BI-Invest, diversified until "by the 1960s it owned more quoted companies than anyone else on the Italian bourse", says Collingridge.

As a boy, the young Bonomi was sent to England for fear of the notorious kidnapping Marxist Red Brigades. Years of privileged schooling at London's Lyce Franais, and thrill-seeking, followed. Bonomi became a world-champion power-boat racer, and went to Russia after the fall of the USSR to fly fighter jets. "The military were not getting paid," he says. "You could go there and rent any kind of fighter. It was extraordinary."

In 1990 Bonomi founded Investindustrial, and has since raised £4.7bn to fund deals. Its most high-profile acquisition was a 37.5% stake in Aston Martin four years ago. Bonomi believes the Warwickshire-based carmaker can take on Ferrari and win. "The people at Aston Martin enjoy being the underdog and that drives you to have a target," he says. "It also helps to have a target that is red."


(Image credit: NoDerog)

How Natural American Spirit sold celebrities a purer tobacco

Natural American Spirit is the cigarette brand beloved of celebrities drawn to its ethos of a purer, if not healthier, tobacco. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow smokes one a week on Saturday nights, she told Harper's Bazaar in 2013 so if that admission still holds true, she accounted for 52 of almost five billion sticks sold last year, says Paul Brownfield in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Users are drawn to the notion that "what I inhale comes from volatilising the tobacco leaf and the leaf only without all the chemicals and flavourings put in conventional brands, thus achieving the following: purer taste, a longer-lasting smoke, the satisfaction of knowing I'm not a tool of Big Tobacco, and a karmic kinship with the earth that might double as a peace offering to the cancer gods", as Brownfield puts it.

This message, carefully crafted by marketing guru and former chief executive Robin Sommers, helped turn Natural American Spirit from "pouch tobacco redolent of leftist politics" sold by Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, then a tiny company based behind a rail yard in New Mexico, into an arm of corporate giant Reynolds American, which bought the firm for $340m in 2002. Along the way it has bucked industry trends: sales of Natural American Spirit rose by 86% from 2009 to 2014, compared with a drop of 17% in overall US cigarette sales over the same time period.

Critics point out that while the tobacco that goes into Natural American Spirit is additive-free, that doesn't make it safe. Worse still, they say, being additive-free gives the brand an implied health claim. Hence the lawyers are now circling: Santa Fe Natural and Reynolds American face a lawsuit that alleges that they "label and advertise Natural American Spirit cigarettesin a false and misleading manner". If the case is granted class-action status in which one or more person sues on behalf of a large group potential damages could be much larger.

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.