They turn up to this event having no idea of what they will be cooking or have any idea of the produce that will be available to them. They go out into the forests, swamps, coastlines or whatever is around them, in previous years it has been held in Copenhagen, Lapland, Poland and Osaka so it is always unique. They then build a dish each using what is there which is served at a 60-seater dinner that night. I cannot put into words the dishes that these chefs create but they are truly original and breathe taking. Rene redzepi who until today was crowned the best chef in the world pulled bull rushes from a stream (they look like huge leeks coming up out of the water) trimmed them to about the size of a normal leek and that was it! The dish! People just sat chewing on these large swamp sticks that until then nobody thought was edible let alone delicious.
The event its self was promoted around the release of the book ‘cook it raw’, which follows the chefs over this journey every year. It is full of wonder full quotes and absolutely stunning photography.
“I used to think that the most important bit of the chef’s day was the service but I was wrong it is the mise en place, making sure that everything is in place and ready to go. And I don’t mean the in the kitchen. Mise en place starts in the ground, in the field, in the sea or in the forest. If it’s not right there then you have no service”.
The event was a who’s who of the international restaurant scene, helped by the world’s best 50 restaurant awards being held the following day in London, and I have to admit I was absolutely star stuck! Unless you are as obsessive as I am about these things then you won’t get it I’m afraid but to me these people are my hero’s. I spend a small fortune travelling around eating at these restaurants and buying the books and memorising every interview they have ever given but a lot of these peoples restaurants I will never be able to visit. They are in Australia, San Francisco, Brazil, japan etc.
To get to hear their opinions first hand on the sourcing of products and the effects on the environment and therefore their restaurants was truly inspiring. The book itself has no recipes and that’s fine with me. It’s not about what they produced those days it’s about the mentality of what they did and how that inspires you.
“the most wonderful moment from the first cook it raw event happened when David Chang from Momofuku in New York city walked out into grass covered clearing outside the forest in Copenhagen, bent his knees and placed them in the dirt. He reached down and grabbed a handful of the sheep sorrel growing wild and placed it in his mouth and then his entire face changed, he realised that this wasn’t just a collection of green things clung together, this was just a forest or a stream, this is a larder of ingredients”.