The Lowdown: chef collaborations

By Georgia Bronte contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Lowdown: chef collaborations
The hospitality industry is a friendly place, so it should come as no surprise that one of the latest trends seen across the dining scene is the chef collaboration.

The chef collaboration?
Exactly. You might recognise it more if it’s written in the format “Chef 1 X Chef 2” at the top of a menu, though.

So, basically rent-free pop ups for top chefs at their chef-geek mates’ restaurants?
Well, in some circumstances that could be a near-true description, but more recently the collaborations have seen the head chefs from much-loved restaurants host one-off events with absolutely collaborative menus.

Sounds like a pop-up to me…
Think of it more like a chance for diners to try a unique menu that won’t be seen again. Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster restaurant hosted a ‘Dinner With Friends’ earlier this year, which saw a new guest chef join the team at the Shoreditch restaurant each month to host ‘family style’ feasts, which are served in the private dining room alongside drinks.

So it’s just an excuse for him to hang out with his mates?
No, the chefs are chosen based on the unique perspective they give to the event. The series kicked off with Selin Kiazim from Oklava, next up was Tomos Parry and his Basque-inspired fare, and then Ali Borer from Thai barbecue restaurant Smoking Goat.

Clever Marcus
It’s not just him doing it. Ben Murphy, head chef of Kensington fine dining restaurant Launceston Place, will be teaming up with some of the UK’s best loved chefs for a ‘Behind the Pass’ series. Chefs including Sat Bains; Florence Knight; Rowley Leigh and Nicholas Balfe will cook a collaborative menu with Murphy to celebrate the diversity of styles and flavours in British cooking. Think: local suppliers, classical techniques, and seasonal ingredients. And then there’s The Game Bird restaurant, at The Stafford London, which will welcome chef Lisa Allen on 7 June as part of its ongoing guest chef series.

Anything a bit more casual?
You can’t get much more casual than a ‘kebab-off’ competition, held in London’s Kingly Court in February, when Le Bab teamed up with Jeremy Chan from Ikoyi, Jacob Rosen from Pitt Cue and James Hart from El Pastor to serve a kebab feast. All proceeds went to Action Against Hunger.

Who won?
Well… Le Bab did. But that’s not the point. And the votes were verified twice, so…

Sounds like electoral fraud to me.
Moving swiftly on, it’s worth noticing that the aforementioned Chan of Ikoyi fame is actually a pretty frequent collaborator. You can catch him at the Radio Alice ‘Chef Slice Off’ this month, where he will be creating a pizza for the restaurant that will run as a special for a week before the next chef comes in to take over. Also in the running is Sandia Chang from Bubbledogs; Meriel Armitage from vegan pop-up restaurant Club Mexicana; Ollie Templeton from Carousel; and Douglas McMaster from Cub.

What’s Chan’s take going to be?
West African inspired roasted kelp marinated razor clams, dandelions, Yaji spice and caramelised pork heart. It’s in the final week of the series, which will fall on 11 June.

Yikes. You can’t get that from Pizza Hut.
You certainly can’t. But you might at Franco Manca. The pizza restaurant group will celebrate its 10th​ birthday later this year, and has a series of events lined up to mark the occasion. In February Italy’s youngest Michelin-starred chef, Martina Caruso, create a special pizza for it inspired by her hometown, reimagining the classic Aeolian salad as a pizza. Although it might have just disappeared from the menu, Franco Manca has a series of chef collaboration special edition pizzas lined up for the remainder of 2018, so keep an eye out for them.

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