If your idea of a chef is someone who spends his or her working life in the kitchen, think again.
In 2009, while the city of Copenhagen was gearing up to coping with climate change, a small group of individuals in the same city were involved in discussions on a similarly 'green' topic, but from a different point of view, utilizing principally smell, taste, sound and sight, rather than words.
These experts in the culinary field analyzed their role in nature, not in terms of ‘going back to nature’ but ‘moving forward with it.’ They have organized a ‘brotherhood’ called Cook it Raw and moved out of the kitchen into uncharted territories, exploring new realms of fragrance, taste and culture.
This ‘brotherhood’ includes some of the greatest minds from leading restaurants around the globe, including Rene Redzepi from Noma, recently voted number 1 restaurant in the world. Others include Takahiko Kondo and Tokuyoshi Yoji from Modena’s Osteria Francescana, Albert Adría, Ferran’s brother and chef at Barcelona’s Ticketsbar, and London’s Claude Bosi from Hibiscus.
For each meeting, this group selects a secluded destination where they embark on a full immersion into nature, exploring local vegetable products and customs to discover new sensorial experiences for the palate. The first of these sessions was held in a location surrounded by green pastures in the outskirts of Copenhagen. This was followed by Collio in northern Italy, and then Finland’s arctic Lapland region.
The latest episode of Cook it Raw took place in Japan’s Ishikawa region, an area with magnificent landscapes where the coastline meets the mountains and where there are some of the most beautiful gardens in Japan. This region is home to farmers, fishermen, and craftspeople, all of whom live close to traditional ways of life, in harmony with the environment around them. This is where 15 of the world's top chefs unleashed their creative powers.
As on previous occasions, the chefs set themselves the task of understanding the new environment, learning about local traditions from the inhabitants, and in particular their local cuisine. Once the chefs explored and absorbed all this information, they used it to prepare a dish expressing their experience in the area and its people.
On the final evening, all the chefs presented their recipes. The dishes included Albert Adría’s ‘Frustrated Mackerel,’ Ben Shewry’s ‘Dry your eyes sweetheart’ with wasabi flowers, chrysanthemums and prawns, and ‘Saké Saké’ by Rene Redzepi, which fascinated all those present. In fact he prepared an ice cream using the traditional Japanese beverage. The locals loved it, because it was a unique re-interpretation of a familiar flavour.