The ultimate kitchen swap

cookbook collage

Last week, 37 of the world's top chefs did something a little bit crazy: they all switched restaurants for one day. Sponsored by S. Pellegrino, the Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle featured top chefs ranging from Noma's René Redzepi to McCrady's Sean Brock, who "not only cooked in an entirely new restaurant (and in some cases an entirely new country), but...also lived in their host chef's home while preparing an eight-course dinner that would show off their culinary skills."

GELINAZ! is an acronym created by a collective of international chefs and the Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle a project wherein the chefs try to continually challenge themselves to stay at the top of their game. Each chef had but four days to scope out the new kitchen, create a menu, and get the hosting team in tune so ticket-holding diners would be wowed by the food. 

Diners purchased tickets in advance of the event without knowing who was going to cook in their chosen restaurant. Naturally people tried to discover which chef was going where (even analyzing airline schedules), but for the most part, the surprises held and diners didn't know who was cooking until the day of the event.

Once the swap took place, the chefs shared their experiences with various news outlets and websites, often participating in Q&A sessions. Grub Street spoke with Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana (ranked No.2 in the World's 50 Best Restaurants) after his stint at David Chang's Momofuku Ko restaurant in New York City. Bottura told Grub Street what it was like to step into another chef's kitchen, how he felt about Sean Brock taking over his kitchen in Modena, Italy, and about the evening's menu.

Meanwhile, diners at Blanca in Brooklyn dined on a meal created by Alex Atala of D.O.M. in São Paulo, No. 9 on the World's Best Restaurants list. Bon Appetit interviewed Atala after his stint in Blanca's kitchen. Atala brought many ingredients with him, but "after hanging out in the Blanca kitchen for a couple of days, he incorporated house-made ingredients, like beef lardo and 'nduja (and that crazy dry-aged steak)" into the menu.

You can read how Paul Cunningham, formerly from the UK but now located in Denmark, loosened up the formality usually found in Sean Brock's McCrady's in Charleston, South Carolina, by turning up the lights, swapping out the music, and serving bread without any plates.

Switching to the West Coast, you can discover what Australian chef Jock Zonfrillo, who foraged in forests and on beaches in California, served to guests at David Kinch's Manresa, located in Los Gatos. Meanwhile, Kinch had hopped over the Pacific to Narisawa in Tokyo and Narisawa owner Yoshihiro Narisawa was cooking at Attica in Melbourne, Australia. You can see a full list of swaps here.

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