Gelinaz! – the flying collective lookback & the 2nd shuffle

So, on the 10th November this year happened the second Gelinaz! Shuffle – probably for the chefs the most challenging food event of the year. Do you know the whole story?

The culinary collective Gelinaz! was started in 2005 by the chef Fulvio Pierangelini and the journalist/curator Andrea Petrini (and is now managed by the creative directors Andrea Petrini and Alexandra Swenden) to stimulate creativity and collaborations between the chefs.

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The birth: Fulvio Pierangelini was at that time one of the most famous Italian chefs and his recipes were widely copied. Because of this he was avoiding engagements at the cooking shows and congresses. At one of his visits at Fulvio’s restaurant has Andrea Petrini started to think about a different way of approacing the problem and so he suggested to Fulvio to go to San Sebastian with some of the world’s best chefs where the challenge would be to present his recipe which other chefs would recreate in their own way. Gelinaz! were born with this first event called “Gelinaz play Fulvio Pierangelini” in which Gelinaz were like a band of chefs who played a piece by Pieragelini. Between the chefs were also Andoni Luis Aduriz, Massimo Bottura, Davide Scabin and Petter Nilsson.

Fabulous. And then? New events followed in different locations engaging more and more chefs. In 2015 was organised the first Gelinaz Shuffle and in 2016 followed the second one which has gathered 40 chefs who for three days exchanged their kitchens and homes – so for example Sven Elverfeld from Aqua in Germany cooked at Gaggan in Bangkok, Virgilio Martinez appeared at Den in Tokyo and Niko Romito was cooking at Central in Lima, Peru. All this shuffle happened in a big secrecy (the secret keepers were chefs and ambassadors): who is cooking where was revealed to the dinners and the wider public only when they took place at their tables. This wonderful but also very hard challenge requires from every participating chef to step out of his comfort zone and to challenge himself to creating dishes with completely new ingredients and with a team he never met before. A beautifully orchestrated challenge was managed with a great sensibility by Andrea Petrini and Alexandra Swenden who put all their heart and soul into it to keep all the different characters involved happy and to arrange that everything proceeds smoothly. What does such a challenge mean for a chef was beautifully described by Massimo Bottura and other chefs here. Last year I was following the shuffle on twitter – it was exciting to be part of it even just through social media engagement, following the teasers of the ambassadors (every Gelinaz restaurant has an ambassador who is through social media channels sending drops of informations regarding the happening at the restaurants – by teasing without revealing the identity of the guest chef), this year instead I was engaged inside – as the ambassador at the Black Axe Mangal (with the guest chef Simone Tondo). It was an exciting experience being part of the Gelinaz! tribe, keeping in touch with chefs who I knew already before and with ambassadors with who we supported each other by exchanging experiences and retweeting each other’s news. But even more exciting was all this for the chefs who were taking part in this challenge.

For every chef cooking in a foreign city is a beautiful occasion to present his cuisine to the new audiences. Of course everybody is fond of presenting himself in the best possible way … Yet here is the catch: during the shuffle they are challenged to not cook their own dishes but to create new ones within only three days, with the hosting restaurant and territory in mind and supported by a totally new team which means walking on a really thin ice … How did they create the dishes? What was the thought behind them? How did the new locations, restaurants and foreign lands inspire them? Some of the Gelinaz! chefs will reveal their experiences on HdG in the following weeks here.

Andreja Lajh

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