The Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle on 9th July 2015 saw 37 of the world’s best chefs swapping kitchens for a few days to produce a unique menu inspired by the restaurant they were sent to for one dinner service only. We were fortunate to be the only media covering the Noma takeover of Nahm in Bangkok.
Chef David Thompson of Nahm, Bangkok, cooked at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée in Paris while René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen took over the kitchen of Nahm for a night. We were assigned to cover the event at Nahm — Lara as the only journalist officially dining there, with full access to the chefs, and myself as a fly on the wall in the kitchen snapping all the action for a couple of days.
When I say all the action that means I arrived in the kitchen fresh off the plane from Siem Reap and some twelve hours later, well past midnight, I was still observing Noma Sous Chefs Thomas Frebel and Beau Clugston chop, slice, taste, grill, fry, whizz, blanch, bag, and label all of the ingredients for their 15 dishes for the next night’s Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle dinner.
The boys only got around three hours sleep each night, surviving on Red Bull, coffee and the samples of the dishes they were developing. As the Metropolitan’s Executive Chef Chris Miller said “They are consummate professionals”.
But where was Chef René Redzepi? Sadly, his wife had been rushed to hospital and into emergency surgery just hours before René was due to board his first flight so his chefs left without him to get things started in Bangkok.
As René wasn’t able to arrive until the day of the dinner, Thomas and Beau took charge, creating an extraordinary menu of meticulously prepared dishes featuring wild combinations of Thai ingredients that only chefs foreign to the cuisine, and with adventurous palates, could produce.
I’m still not sure whether the boys were relived or nervous when René finally had a chance to taste what had only been discussed on the phone up until that point!
While Thomas and Beau had things under control when it came to the food, and Chris, Nahm Head Chef Prin Polsuk and Restaurant Manager-Sommelier Greg Plowes ensured the kitchen and front of house teams were there to support them, when René arrived he provided the much-needed context, spirit, leadership, and motivation that made the night such a success. That included running plates from kitchen to table all night!
As Chris Miller said the next day of the experience: “It was mind-blowing!”
Our first story and photographs from the event are up on the front page of CNN today. The Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle is an incredible concept that we will write more about in a future story here on Grantourismo. In the meantime, check out the Grand Gelinaz! digital wall to see what went on in the 37 kitchens and restaurants around the world.
A big thank you to David Thompson, René Redzepi and the Noma and Nahm teams for allowing us to get up close and personal to document the experience, to Mason Florence, and to the Metropolitan by Como for hosting us, as they have before when we’ve covered Nahm. It’s become ‘a home away from home’ for us (which they must be getting worried about!). We’re very grateful.
Pictured above are Noma Sous Chefs Thomas Frebel (left) and Beau Clugston (centre) with Chef René Redzepi (right) working in the kitchen at Nahm, Bangkok. Copyright 2015 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.