Christophe Hardiquest and his restaurant Bon Bon in Brussels has been in the limelight in the past weeks as the news that Gelinaz!, the collective of international chefs, would organise Brussels Headquarters in the Belgian capital city. On November 10, his restaurant in Woluwe St Pierre, one of the communes of the Brussels, will welcome 19 chefs (see full list below) from across Europe for a unique event that has never been organised before.
“This is a once in a lifetime experience for the team and myself. An experience like this, it will be forever etched in your memory,” Christophe told Food and Wine Gazette in an interview. “But the event is not only important for the team and the restaurant, it is also extremely important for Brussels particularly in this current period. I am proud to be part of such an event.”
So what is going to happen in Brussels on the 10 November? 20 of the world’s most creative chefs including Belgium’s Gert de Mangeleer and Kobe Desramaults will be paired into 10 teams and together they will cook and reinterpret one dish that will be cooked in one of 40 restaurants around the world who will be taking part in what is called the Gelinaz! shuffle. At the shuffle 40 chefs will switch restaurants from around the world randomly and will cook for guests who will not know until they get to the restaurant who will be cooking for them in the restaurant.
At the Brussels Headquarters, these 20 chefs will be cooking non-stop for (at least) 15 hours starting from the first service at noon, through to a late lunch, a dinner and a late dinner which starts at midnight and finishes at 3am on 11 November.
Christophe says that this should not be intense for the chefs that will take part because they will only be preparing one dish for each service. “However, it will require a lot of preparation, stamina and organisation.”
The Brussels chef said that the restaurant will change for the day. “We will have to make use of all the space we have, both inside and outside. We will be using upstairs and as well as the outdoor space to create more space for people to work. We will have everything organised per recipe. We have taken all the recipes of each chef taking part in the shuffle (40 in total) and we will prepare boxes with the ingredients and the recipes. These boxes will be in a refrigerated truck that we will have outside the restaurant.”
Every team of chefs will need to take the ingredients (in large quantities) and prepare the mis-en-place. In total each team of chefs will have to prepare four dishes, one for each service. They will then each have one fridge to store their mis-en-place before the service. Christophe will be in charge of choosing the sequence in which the dishes are served as well as the rhythm of the service. “What we will have to manage carefully is the time and pace both during the service and between each service. This will be very important given that the chefs will be in the kitchen for more than 12 hours,” he said.
Christophe got involved in the Gelinaz! collective (read the story of Gelinaz! here) in the past months and he believes that it is a unique experience. “For me Gelinaz! was a discovery. It is a great place where there is no competition between chefs. It is very interesting to be able to meet people from all over the world, people with different nationalities and different mentalities all coming together for the pleasure of cooking.”
“There is great respect between all chefs in Gelinaz! And it does not only include Michelin star chefs. There is a great mix of chefs from pizzaiolos to 3 Michelin star chefs and we are all working together trying to do something new with no rules, no boundaries. It is interesting for us as chefs to work like this without any constraints. It is fun with a touch of rock and roll,” he said.
Gelinaz! events also help customers to be less formal and it might also change the way people look at food. “Gelinaz! is important because we can break the code and allow our clients to enjoy new sensations and new experiences away from the constraints of classic cuisine. Part of the fun is that as a customer, you do not know what is going to happen or what you will eat. It is also interesting for chefs and their teams because otherwise they end up doing the same thing as a routine so these events create excitement for chefs and their teams,” Christophe said.
He says that what is interesting both for the chefs and for the customers is that this is a once in a lifetime experience. “The events are improvised, they are fun and in many cases it will be something that you will experience only once in your life,” he said.
Gelinaz! does not normally repeat the same events though this year’s shuffle is the second time that it is being organised.
Christophe said that when he spoke to Alexandra Swenden, one of the co-curators of Gelinaz!, they both agreed something needed to be done for Brussels as a city. “Brussels is a nice city but nothing normally happens during this period. We wanted to do something for Brussels and thanks to the support of the city we are going to organise this event here,” he said.
At a time when Brussels is struggling because of the terrorist attacks earlier this year, Christophe says such an event is important because it will create a lot of interest at the international level and generate lots of international press.
The chefs that will be coming to Brussels to cook at Bon Bon with Christophe Hardiquest are:
- Kobe Desramaults (In De Wulf, Belgium)
- Gert de Mangeleer (Hertog Jan, Belgium)
- Davide Scabin (Combal Zero, Italy)
- Claude Bosi (Hibiscus, London)
- Petter Nilsson (Spiritmuseum, Sweden)
- Yannick Alleno (Alleno, Pavillon Ledoyen, France)
- Kristian Baumann (Restaurant 108, Copenhagen)
- Clare Smyth (Gordon Ramsay, UK, soon to open her own restaurant)
- Mauro Colagreco (Le Mirazur, France),
- Leonardo Pereira (soon to open his own restaurant in Porto, Portugal)
- Magnus Ek (Oaxen Krog, Sweden)
- Fulvio Pierangelini (Hotel de Russie, Italy)
- Paul Cunningham (Henne Kirkeby Kro, Denmark)
- Armand Arnal (La Chassagnette, Arles, France)
- Alexandre Gauthier (La Grenouillere, France)
- Enrico Crippa, Piazza Duomo (Alba)
- Mathieu Rostaing-Tayard (Cafe Sillon, France)
- Philip Rachinger (Muhltalhof, Austria), and last but not least
- Albert Adria (Tickets, Barcelona).