Gelinaz, the chef’s collective, are back in town on the 3rd December. But this time, they are not travelling, they are staying “at home”. What travels this time, are their recipes. Each chef had to submit eight recipes that are typical for him/her, but she/he never served them at the restaurant yet. Those recipes were then shuffled and sent to another chef who will remix them in his/her own way and serve on the 3rd of December, for one night only, dishes inspired by those recipes to her/his guests. The guests and the chef will get to know whose recipes was interpreting the chef only at the end of the dinner through the Gelinaz ambassador who will attend the dinner (I will be that night the ambassador at the Aimsir restaurant in Ireland). Ambassadors will also take care of communication from the restaurants on that night, so if you are curious what is happening on the other side of the world, do follow us on Instagram (mine is here).
Yoji Tokuyoshi has received the recipes. And now?
What was your first thought when you read the recipes you received?
My first thought was that it was going to be difficult finding these specific Mexican ingredients in Tokyo. We immediately started looking but we could not find the actual ingredients, so we quickly realised that we had to look for similar ingredients.
What do you think of them now?
They are keeping me up at night, haha. It has proven very very difficult finding these things in Japan because they are flavours we are not used to and are very unusual for Japanese cuisine.
If you had to choose an animal to describe them, what would it be?
A cactus. 😀 Because Gelinaz pricks us to get us out of our comfort zones.
What will be the greatest challenge for you in this Gelinaz project?
The greatest challenge of this project is to imitate flavours I haven’t tasted. With a foreign cuisine, it is very difficult to imagine what each dish should taste like, so it is incredibly hard to replicate. The only way we can really approach it is to make the dishes of the menu our own version of delicious.
We are also working on explaining this new menu, which is a super important element in the full experience. Of course, we are working on making our own interpretation of the recipe, that I hope will be similar to the original, but we also need to know the stories and ideas behind the dishes to explain them well.
And what are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to this challenge – we need to cook somebody else’s recipe in our own way and at the same time adopt ourselves to a new world communicated with only written words and many things about it left unknown. It will be fun!
The next things in the pipeline are many! First of all, we are super happy that Alterego just received a Michelin star! The project here is to continue to develop our concept, and in particular our soup pairing. In Italy, I will continue to develop my cuisine as well. Although Alterego in Tokyo and Ristorante Tokuyoshi in Milan take my cuisine and concept in two different directions, there are certain elements that link them together and I would like to emphasise these.
What is the base of both cuisines will be developed through our project 4 Hands with Nonna that essentially aims to discover and explore the culinary memory through the stories of grandmothers. What we learn from this project acts as a fundament for whatever we develop in the kitchen. We have started the project in Italy and continue it there, but recently we decided to launch it internationally so we get to learn from culinary traditions all over the world.
Physically our spaces are changing as well: Ristorante Tokuyoshi is undergoing a full reconstruction this year – we are currently closed to reopen in February 2020 – and Alterego is up next!
PS Do check also Gabriela Camara, Chiho Kanzaki & Marcello di Giacomo, Lorenzo, Stefano & Benedetto, Micha Schäfer, Ana Ros, Jose Avillez, Karime Lopez, Angelo Agliano, Philip Rachinger, Niki Nakayama, Jeremy Chan, Niko Romito, Bo Songvisava & Dylan Jones, Antonio Galapito, Christophe Hardiquest, Antonia Klugmann, Jordan Bailey, Selassie Atadika, Rodolfo Guzman, Alberto Landgraf, Virgilio Martinez,Alex Atala, Zaiyu Hasegawa and Santiago Lastra.