Last year, Willows Inn chef Blaine Wetzel masterminded this crazy caper—a large-scale Freaky Friday wherein 37 chefs across the world swapped kitchens for a night. Now 40 chefs from Brazil to Russia to Japan are taking part in this year's iteration, which will include another dinner at Willows Inn on November 10.
This whole affair is known as the Grand Gelinaz Shuffle; and diners reserve seats at a restaurant having no idea which world-esteemed chef will be in the kitchen. Last year Wetzel departed for to Mirazur on France’s Côte d’Azur, ranked no. 11 in the world, while Daniel Patterson of the very impressive Coi in San Francisco served dinner in Wetzel's restaurant up on Lummi Island.
Chefs get assigned, supposedly, at random and spend three days getting acquainted with what their host kitchen and region have to offer, all in a shroud of secrecy. The idea isn't to transplant their menus, but to fuse a chef's culinary approach with the sensibility of the region.
If you're game for an elaborate and mysterious outing to Lummi Island on a Thursday night, reservations are available as of today, September 21, on the Gelinaz website. Cost is 280 euro per person, so...about $315 a pop?
The website also has the full list of participants so you can make guesses and assign hopes and wishes accordingly. There are some pretty impressive names in play; I'd take a night at Willows with Massimo Bottura or Dominique Crenn or Rene Redzepi.