In less than a week’s time, on Tuesday 3 December at 8pm, 148 chefs will stay at home as part of the Grand GELINAZ Shuffle Stay in tour. What’s the big deal you may ask and why all the social media buzz about this event?
We sat down with Andrea Petrini, one of the faces of GELINAZ! (And co-founder of the collective with Fulvio Pierangelini) who together with Patricia Meunier and Mat Gallet are organising the GELINAZ!’s most political event ever at Tosca Restaurant in Hong Kong.
GELINAZ!, the collective of chefs born to push boundaries in 2005 has been bringing together chefs to work outside their comfort zone, to have fun and experiment. A space for risk taking where customers are there to join in the fun without necessarily judging the work of chefs.
“The idea was born out of the frustration of always needing sponsors to organise events. We are in between five to six projects in the United States, Eastern Europe and Berlin but we always need to beg the usual suspects for sponsors,” he said. “At a global level, there are fewer and fewer sponsors that are interesting in sponsoring these type of events.”
“With this frustration, one morning in May, while there was a manifestation of the gilet jaunes (yellow vests) in France we decided that there would be a shuffle where everyone stays at home. We already had the reasons why they should stay at home but that was how the idea was born. We were a bit naive in that we thought it would be simple, that there would be no need to pay for flights, to convince sponsors. We said we will do it our way and we will do it anyway,” Andrea said.
The response has been significant. Chefs loved the idea and have all signed up for it though they have taken different approaches of how they created their matrixes.
“This is the biggest GELINAZ! Project ever and it is also the most complicated one we have ever organised. In our selection of chefs we wanted to bring together opposites. We wanted to bring the elites like Alain Ducasse and also many more accessible restaurants. There are many more participants from Latin America, Asia and there are many more women but we did not do this because we want to please Maria Canabal (of Parabere Forum) but because we realise that despite being completely against 50/50 quotas, putting women together with men (an experiment that was tried in Austria) led to much more creativity without anguish, rigidity,” Andrea said.
Andrea said that what is beautiful about the event is that there could be an exchange between a chef with many star restaurants landing in a humble restaurant or vice-versa. “How are these recipes going to be reinterpreted. That is something very interesting to see.”
The Identikit of the perfect chef for GELINAZ
Andrea is the one who choses most of the chefs for the GELINAZ! Collective. “He or she have to be able to cook, they have a vision, they are not someone who has been taken over by the ‘mafia’. They need to have a minimum of coherence and honesty and are not there to please everybody. GELINAZ is about taking risks, not doing the same things you do in your restaurant. If someone does not spend time in the kitchen, it is unlikely that this would work for GELINAZ.”
He said there were many chefs who were great but would never be part of the collective. “It is a bit judgemental but that’s the approach.
The archetypes of GELINAZ according to Andrea would be Fulvio Pierangelini because he was the founder. But the real hardcore come from the historic event and some who joined in 2013. “Inaki, René, Virgilio, Rodolfo, Kobe would all fit in.”
In a world where chefs have been travelling for events, four hands dinners and what not, this stay in shuffle has ruffled some feathers. It is the most political event ever.
“The days of the chef as a superstar are over. People have become tired of this. The emperor is naked and its high time we call it. Behind every chef is a brigade of people helping him or her rise one step at a time,” Andrea says.
“It is political because people will not move but it is the ideas and recipes that will move. Behind this there are a series of social and political considerations. In a month’s time we will be in 2020 and we are still behaving like at the turn of the century. Chefs continue to go to culinary events, to fairs to ‘fake’ cook on stage. They go to four hands dinner where everyone does their own dishes and there is no exchange except maybe one who adds some coriander to the dish. We have pop-ups for publicity. It is 20 years that there is this closed circuit and chefs cannot stand it any more. People are annoyed because they pay to visit a restaurant and a chef is not there because he is somewhere around the world talking or at a four hands dinner. Families are also annoyed because the chefs are not there and the children grow up without seeing their father or mother. Even the brigade is not happy because they are working with someone who is not present,” Andrea said.
“So the Stay in Shuffle is a provocation. We need to go back to the basics. Chefs need to remember who they are cooking for. Are they cooking for millionaire elites? Do they cook for a more modest clientele? The reality today is that most chefs who come out of training aspire to cook for the top end.”
Andrea says that the event puts inTo question the current system, the whole economics of the industry. “We need to go back to the roots. We need to stop with this system of press persons, assistants, private counsellors to chefs whose sole aim is to push them up the ladder of guides or lists. When the system will come tumbling down, everyone will be asking what we have been doing for the past 20 years,” Andrea said.
How it is going to work
Each of the 148 chefs with their restaurants have had to create eight new recipes that they have never served before in their restaurants. They’ve been doing this over the summer months. Some have been good students sending the recipes on time. Other’s less so particularly those who are more used to improvisation and to working without recipes.
The recipes they have created form a menu. But they will not be serving that restaurant in their restaurant. That menu will be drawn by lots and will be sent to another chef somewhere else in the world. It will be the chef and the team receiving the recipes and menu that will have the onus of fully remixing the recipes in their own radical and personal way depending on the ingredients they find at home. “One’s ideas will be taken care of by someone else thus becoming something completely different. It is a mind game and one which is set to create very interesting results.
Among the 148 chefs there is a bit of everything. There are those who meticulously create and recipes as a step by step process. There are others who are much more improvisational and might just send concepts of their recipe. So what happens when a meticulous chefs ends up receiving a menu with more concept than instruction? That’s for the guests on 3 December to find out.
The chefs on Tuesday 3 December will be playing with other people’s ideas. Like orchestras, they will be taking the lead from other composers’ scores. They will have to work with 8 matrixes and there will be 8 remixes.
GELINAZ! said: “What if one year from now, on this same day, we all officially declare – One Voice, One Country! – December 3 the International Stay in Day? Would Greta join the party?
A few tickets remain. Check if a restaurant near you has availability for this unique event.