When it comes to culinary collaborations, one individual who’s done it before and is doing it again is Alyn Williams – Michelin-starred chef and all round industry good guy – who is offering up his plot of stainless steel in Mayfair to four talented cooks from around Europe for the month of April. He talked to us about this new collaborative festival, the aptly named CHEFstock, and the challenges that surround the event.
Wind back the culinary clock twenty years and the idea of chefs even sharing ideas was unheard of, let alone kitchens. The commis chefs from L’Escargot would eyeball their counterparts from Chez Nico, neither parties willing to share their secrets – it was like a form of ‘gastro-hooliganism’.
Sharing ingredients and ideas is a much bigger part of the industry these days. Alyn has spent formative years working under David Everitt-Matthias, Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing just to mention a few, but even going back a decade or two restaurant collaborations were rare. Were any of these chefs opening their doors to strangers in white jackets?
‘No, I don’t remember any at all,' says Alyn. 'Not with the people I worked with. No guest chefs, takeovers or anything like that. The first time I did anything like that I was head chef at The Groucho Club. But that was a different scenario as it was an arts club, and a lot of the members were chefs. Collaborations there was a historic thing for the club, it wasn’t something I introduced – they had people like Fergus Henderson and Jeremy Lee.