When Great Culinary Minds Unite

Guest chef and mixologist programs around the U.S.
Chefs in action.

Chefs in action.

Every so often, the chef of a great restaurant invites an esteemed peer to join him or her in the kitchen. And like the culinary equivalent of a jam session, when chefs start cooking with talented colleagues, great dishes can follow.

Some places, such as Restaurant Ikarus in Salzburg, Austria, have hosted guest chef programs for some time. Since 2003, Ikarus has invited a chef to helm the kitchen each month. Notable chefs like Jean-Georges, Grant Achatz, René Redzepi, and Ken Oringer have participated. Of course, the most famous guest chef program in recent memory may be FergusStock, Chef Fergus Henderson's series of dinners in New York City, featuring fare like ox tongue bread and pig's head pie. It's a concept gaining popularity in restaurants, and in a modified form, in the world of cocktails.

For instance, while readying his brick-and-mortar location of Tacolicious, in San Francisco, Chef Ken Hargrave invited some of the city's top chefs to take over the stand for a day. He reinstated the popular program last fall for eight-weeks. San Francisco sandwich shop, Pal's Takeaway, invited chefs like Josh Capone (Orson), Chris Cosentino (Incanto), and Jake Godby (Humphry Slocombe's) to create signature sandwiches. Last summer, Mélisse, hosted two superstars, April Bloomfield and David Kinch, in events called "Michelin Mashup: Cooking with Friends." And when Elan and Brett Emerson, the chefs and owners of Contigo, honeymooned in Spain in October, they enlisted Chef Mark Denham (Bishop) as a guest chef.

And it's not just a San Francisco thing. For their second annual chef takeover event, Chalkboard Restaurant in Chicago asked Chef Michael Sheerin (Blackbird) to take over for one night last month. And a month earlier, another famed Chicago eatery, Takashi opened its kitchen to Chef Ming Tsai, who worked with chef-owner, Takashi Yagihashi to create a tasting menu for just one night. New York restaurants are catching on as well, such as PDT. Their hot dog menu has included creations from David Chang, Wylie Dufresne, and Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park). Sue Torres (Sueños) added a cheesy tater tot dish to the menu this month. 


Upcoming Guest Chef Programs:

Stella — Chef and owner, Evan Deluty's guest chef series kicked off with Michael Schlow (Radius). Upcoming guest chefs will be Dante De magistris (1/18) and Kevin Long (1/31). 

Thistle — Well known Portland chefs will be paired with local wineries for a Sunday evening dinner series. Upcoming guest chefs include Jake Martin (Carlyle) and John Taboada (Navarre).

New York City
Fatty Johnson's — Zak Pelaccio's pop-up eatery, which debuted this month, is hosting a series of rotating bartenders. Cocktail expert and author, Dave Wondrich and Greg Seider of The Summit Bar are among participating bartenders.

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