Gainesville’s dearest icon and Maude’s Cafe performer Tom Miller is asking his family and friends to buy him a reasonably priced dinner in a small town for his 50th birthday. 

The restaurant, Noma, is an old waterfront warehouse located in a small town some 4,000 miles away in central Copenhagen, Denmark. It has been voted the world’s best by Restaurant Magazine in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.   

“It’s not just dinner in a small town, though basically put, it might be,” Miller said. “Operation Copenhagen is a mid-life thrill ride, going into the black hole and seeing if you get transported into another universe. It’s a cosmic shift and I feel unexplainably passionate about it.”

The UF Dean’s list student, local writer, musician and painter extraordinaire who has been shining a light on the town’s artistic scene since the early ‘80s hopes the same people that have supported him throughout his career will support him one more time as he attempts to raise $5,000 to board a plane and dine with three of his closest friends at Noma. 

With just a month and half left until his departure on Sept. 25, Miller is almost halfway to his $5,000 goal with $2,050 raised so far in donations. Presently, he has purchased his plane ticket and has reserved a table for four, a reservation that alone cost more than $250 in telephone bills. Miller said the nearly impossible reservation was booked through sheer luck. 

“When we began, we were 900th in line, and when we got it, I dropped to my knees and cried.” 

Noma, opened in 2003 by Chef René Redzepi, is best known for its unique interpretation of Nordic Cuisine.  Featuring dishes such as roasted bone marrow and cabbage and roses, Redzepi is famous for pushing the conventional boundaries and passionately reinventing tradition. 

For Miller, it is this different dimension of simplicity and curiosity that attracts him most to the chef’s work.  

“I have to do something outrageous, something I can’t afford to do and have no business doing because the only way to get anything out of this life is to dive into new experiences, challenges and take a few risks.”

For Miller, Noma signifies the achieving of an impossible dream.

Evan Googe, a sports management junior at Santa Fe and food enthusiast, calls this a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  

“This is a shared experience for everyone involved,” Googe, 20, said. “It’s the vicarious thrill; I support him 100 percent.” 

[A version of this story ran on page 12 on 8/5/15]