Cooking Up A Storm
Top chefs are teaming up to whip up feasts called four-hands dinners that both challenge themselves and delight diners 最近流行“四手晚餐”，名厨邀请与自己理念相同的厨师来客座拼厨艺，两人四手给食客带来双重美味。
They say too many cooks spoil the broth. But some chefs are choosing to join forces with one another to cook up a storm. The four-hands dinner, in which a chef invites another to create a menu together, has gained popularity lately.
A recent much-hyped pairing was that of Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre and Albert Adria of Tickets from Barcelona, who was crowned the World’s Best Pastry Chef in 2015. Ola Cocina Del Mar’s Peruvian-born chef-owner Daniel Chavez also held a third four-hands dinner in July with famed Indian chef Gaggan Anand of Gaggan in Bangkok, named Asia’s top restaurant for the last three years.
Odette’s Julien Royer, too, teamed up recently with twin chefs Thomas and Mathias Suhring from modern German restaurant Suhring in Bangkok. The six-hands culinary adventure saw traditional German recipes passed down from the twins’ grandmother being recreated with modern techniques and seasonal ingredients.
So why are top names in the regional gastronomic scene inviting their competitors into their kitchens? The chefs ZBBZ spoke to say fourhands dinners give them the golden opportunity to cook with friends, not rivals.
“The world is changing,” Chiang notes. “Chefs from the previous generation didn’t have the communication tools to exchange ideas with one another. With the Internet and all the advanced technology available today, chefs can learn from the best and finest from around the world and interact with each other.”
He has been friends with Adria for a decade, having met at top food events around the world. Both men have decided to work together this year. “Adria will come to Singapore first and I will fly to Barcelona later,” Chiang says. “We made a promise.”
Working with a culinary pro you are familiar with can bring an extra dimension to the dishes, said the chefs.
Chiang and Adria aimed to whip up each other’s signature dish. Chiang made Adria’s famous air baguette while the Spaniard recreated the Taiwan-born chef’s signature Camembert dish. Asked if they were afraid of messing up, Chiang replies: “This is the only way we can truly work together and be creative. It doesn’t count as a fourhands dinner if we just split the work in half.”
Meanwhile, Chavez and Anand have enjoyed working together so much they have given their fourhands dinner a name — GGGOLA, an amalgamation of their restaurant names Gaggan and Ola. “It’s different every time,” says Chavez. “One time,
we were cooking Peruvian food over charcoal in Bangkok. Another time, we made Indian paella over barbecue for 200 people.”
Their most recent collaboration involves adding ingredients to each other’s dish. Anand, for example, pepped up Chavez’s Pollo a la Brasa or Peruvian grilled chicken with banana, curry leaves and Indian spices. This reinterpretation has opened Chavez’s eyes to using unfamiliar ingredients in a signature dish.
As fun as it is to whip up a feast together, multihands dinners do present some challenges, such as the sourcing of ingredients.
Giving an example, Chavez says: “Tomatoes grown in different areas can taste different. The dish you’re good at may be popular at the restaurant, but you can’t control how it tastes somewhere else. You need to observe and listen to feedback, and adjust your dish according to the local palate.”
Good teamwork is also paramount, he adds. “A successful four-hands dinner depends on whether both teams can work together, which is not something that happens every day.”
But a collaboration is worth the trouble as it encourages innovation and teaches the chefs involved new things. Frenchman Royer says: “We work in our own vacuum everyday, creating food to feed our guests’ stomachs and, hopefully, their souls. But in a Four Hands situation,when we collaborate with partners who are in sync with our culinary philosophy —magic can happen in the kitchen. I strongly believe in constant education and a lifelong learning process for my team members. A Four Hands collaboration will also give the Odette team an opportunity to learn from other top chefs.”
While these culinary events are popular and often sell out quickly, the chefs involved are usually not motivated by monetary gain. Chiang, for instance, has his own rules for inviting other chefs into his kitchen.
“First, he or she has to be my friend and should be able to cook as well as I do,” he says. “Second, the collaboration should last for only a day, even though it’s not cost effective. With Adria, there are five people in his team. It doesn’t make economic sense to fly down for a day when you consider the expenses for flights and accommodation. But I didn’t hold a four-hands dinner just to make money.”
He adds: “The chefs have come a long way to be here and I want to be their guide, to introduce them to Singapore food, to take them to the hawker centre to eat chicken rice, satay, zhi char and more. If the guest chefs work the entire time without a chance to experience the local culture, how would they improve their cooking?”
“With the Internet and all the advanced technology available today, chefs can learn from the best and finest from around the world and interact with each other.” — Andre Chiang
在武侠小说的世界里，功夫高深的师父教徒弟时会留一手，但在当今的饮食界，名厨们重视的是交流，不吝分享。近期流行的“四手晚餐”（Four Hands Dinner），便是名厨们磨刀的平台，主厨邀请客座厨师一起拼厨艺，在厨房里煮出火花。本地食客近来非常有口福，高级餐馆的四手餐会，一场接一场。
最近一次合作，两人在对方的拿手菜里“加料”，阿南德给查维斯的Pollo a la Brasa烤鸡，加入香蕉、咖哩叶和印度香料。查维斯认为，由他人来诠释自己的菜肴，感觉很奇妙。
这次合作，兄弟呈现经典德国菜包括Toast Hawaii芝士火腿面包、Spatzle鸡蛋面，以及祖母家传食谱Omas Eierlikor蛋奶酒。
Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre and Albert Adria of Tickets aimed to whip up each other’s signature dish. (Photo: Nat K)
Every GGGOLA dish has a unique taste and presentation. (Photo: Ola Cucina Del Mar )
Gaggan Anand and Daniel Chavez have chemistry working with each other in the kitchen. (Photo: Ola Cucina Del Mar )
Odette x Suhring的“六手晚餐”，厨师们擅长法国和德国传统菜肴，让人吃出传统滋味。(Photo: Odette)