The Grand Gelinaz Chef Shuffle returns

This week sees top chefs from all over the world criss-cross the globe to take over the kitchen of one of their colleagues, as Tina Nielsen reports

In total, 40 of the world’s best chefs will swap kitchens for a few days as part of the Grand Gelinaz Chef Shuffle Two (2). They come from 17 countries and five continents and range from Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana in Italy to Zaiyu Hasegawa from Jimbocho Den in Japan.

The rules are simple: all the chefs have known for some time where they’d be heading this week, but have been sworn to secrecy – guests won’t discover the identity of each chef until the moment of the dinner. They will arrive in their temporary kitchen with no ingredients, no staff and no recipes. They’ll have just enough time to meet the team and get a feel for the restaurant and the food there. Their task is to come up with an eight-course menu that will be served on Thursday evening.

The Gelinaz is a collective of international chefs who come together to experiment and learn from each other in a collaborative and non-competitive environment. Previous events have included Walk With Me dinners in London and San Francisco where several restaurants took place and chefs cooked each other’s recipes.

According to founders Andrea Petrini and Alexandra Swenden, the Shuffle is an opportunity for the chefs to move out of their comfort zone. “It is something they would never be able to risk in their own kitchens – it is a menu where they are totally free to experiment,” says Swenden. “They are as excited as they are afraid.”

This is the second year that the Gelinaz has staged the Chef Shuffle; last year saw Dominique Crenn travelling from San Francisco to cook at Chateaubriand in Paris while Jock Zonfrillo from Orana in Australia went to Manresa in California and René Redzepi went to Bangkok where he took charge of Gaggan for the night.

Danny Bowien from Misison Chinese in New York City was sent to Noma in Copenhagen. He calls the experience life-changing. “They welcomed us, they understood that we weren’t trying to do Noma but Mission Chinese at Noma. So the team went above and beyond. They went and got pink tablecloths and flowers like we have at our restaurant; they even played music in the dining room at Noma, which is crazy,” he says.

While conceding that the 2015 Shuffle pushed him the hardest he has ever been pushed professionally, he is looking ahead to this year’s experience with excitement. “I am going to somewhere far away, but it will be amazing. It will make me a better chef, a better cook, a better teacher and a better person. It makes you really look and re-evaluate your situation,” he explains.

While the Shuffle takes place around the world, an additional 20 chefs will come together in Brussels at the Gelinaz HQ dinner, which promises to be an epic dining experience, starting at 12pm when the first Shuffle service kicks off in Adelaide and ending at 3am when the last one finishes in San Francisco. They will be paired up to produce different versions of recipes by the travelling chefs who have created a dish based on their expectation of what they will find at restaurant they are visiting. “In Brussels we’ll have 40 recipes and 20 chefs. So the chefs will work in pairs and we are going to serve these 40 dishes remixed by each duo of chefs,” explains Swenden.

Tina Nielsen

 Watch out for the article about collaboration among chefs in the Q1 2017 edition of Foodservice Consultant.

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