Chef swap – it’s like wife swap only even more deadly

The creative forces behind 37 of the world’s top restaurants are swapping kitchens, homes and even families . . . for one night only

Alain Ducasse (right),  with sous chef Romain Meder at the Plaza Athénée, is one of 37 top chefs swapping their restaurant for a mystery one where they will cook dinner tomorrow evening. Photograph: Pierre Monette

Alain Ducasse (right), with sous chef Romain Meder at the Plaza Athénée, is one of 37 top chefs swapping their restaurant for a mystery one where they will cook dinner tomorrow evening. Photograph: Pierre Monette

 

Alain Ducasse won’t be cooking in the rarified crystal and silverware surroundings of his restaurant at the Plaza Athénée in Paris tomorrow. You could possibly find him pounding Thai chillies at David Thompson’s Nahm restaurant in Bangkok, or stir frying buckwheat noodles at Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese Food on East Broadway in New York.

Ducasse is one of 37 of the world’s top chefs taking part in a one-off, one-night worldwide restaurant swap tomorrow. The participants, who also include René Rezepi (Noma), Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana), Magnus Nilsson (Faviken) and Albert Adrià (Pakta), will have to cook an eight-course dinner tomorrow in the style of the restaurant they’ve been paired up with. They cannot take ingredients from home with them, and must develop an original menu that is true to the spirit and style of the establishment they are guesting in.

Chefs being chefs, there have been a couple of exceptions made – Ducasse requested not to travel too far afield, so perhaps he won’t be in Asia or the US after all. David Thompson’s plea to bring Thai spices with him was indulged, and Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz) requested a Spanish-speaking kitchen, perhaps securing his seat on an aircraft bound for South America.

They’ve all been given three days to acclimatise to their new surroundings, and have had to move into their counterpart’s homes as well as their kitchens, sharing their cars, their knives and even their families, in a truly collaborative experiment. Restaurants from Melbourne to Lima are taking part and diners tomorrow evening won’t know who is responsible for their meal until it’s over, when the guest chef will be revealed. Tickets went on sale on May 13th and sold out immediately.

The event, called the Grand GELINAZ! Shuffle, is being orchestrated by Andrea Petrini and Alexandra Swenden of GELINAZ!, which is described as a creative collective of international chefs, while Petrini and Swenden are “curators of a culinary hub that brings together chefs and artists, musicians, scientists, thinkers and producers”. The idea came originally from US chef Blaine Wetzel, 2014 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year.

The destination of each chef will be revealed gradually, across multiple global time zones tomorrow, with Attica (Melbourne) and Orana (Adelaide) first up at around 9.30am our time, and closing with San Franciso restaurants Coi and Atelier Crenn.

A digital day-to-day diary platform is charting each restaurant’s experience of having a guest chef take over. Anonymity has been preserved, so you’ll see images of kitchen action, menu meetings, tasting sessions, and arty shots of the guest chef’s hands, not face – though was a leaked image supposedly of chef Inaki Aizpitarte of Paris’s Le Chateaubriand, relaxing in the Swedish forest surroundings of Magnus Nilsson’s Faviken. The digital platform is at shuffle.gelinaz.com, where you can follow tomorrow’s action as well as the background leading up to each dinner.

Sadly there are no Irish restaurants involved this time, and Claude Bosi of Hibiscus in London is the only UK participant. But it’s a terrific idea that could also be applied on a national scale – something for Euro-Toques Ireland to consider, perhaps.

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