On the move! Why chefs are choosing not to settle down

Friday, December 2, 2016

Lately top chefs have been doing things differently, transporting their restaurant concept to various pop-up locations. Traditional dining experiences are constantly being challenged to provide new ‘on the move’ ways to excite customers and create memorable events. Where once street food was king, perhaps this is the newest way for established chefs to tap into the ever evolving wants, tastes and experiences that diners now demand.

Meat and vegetable kebabs on a grill

Pop-up shops and restaurants have been around for many years, but it is only in recent years that we have started to see top chefs, such as Ben Spalding, step away from their Michelin-starred environments.  Spalding’s #AllGunsBlazing collaborative supper club1

concept has seen him host meals in partnership with chefs all over the country throughout 2016,  providing a new kind of  dining experience with guests having to purchase tickets to each event 6-8 weeks in advance.

Food critic Daniel Young, has built on his successful Burger Monday series – a pop-up burger restaurant which features guest chefs cooking up the very best burgers twice a month – to launch PizzaTuesday and SpagWednesday. His mission to find the best burger in London saw top chefs such as Alexis Gauthier and Daniel Doherty accepting the challenge of providing three course menus for those lucky enough to get tickets.

By moving from place to place, chefs are constantly finding new audiences and introducing new cuisines to new people and communities. It has taken the pop-up dining scene to a new level – ingredients are fresh, dishes original and the experience is unique, bridging the gap between street food and traditional dining.

Big names are also getting in on the act – Thomasina Miers, founder of Wahaca, opened a permanent residence for DF Mexico, which initially launched as a pop-up in Shoreditch’s Old Truman Brewery. This proves just how useful a pop-up can be for restaurateurs wanting to test the waters with a new idea, experience and menu.

There’s a small risk that people may be disappointed by a foodie ‘one night stand’ but most enjoy the exclusivity of the event and so are more likely to talk about it on social media, helping to gain chefs more followers.

Meanwhile, the chefs appear to love the continuous change as no two sittings can ever be the same.  It’s a way to make the whole event much more experiential and every round of customers is impressed by their flavour combinations, dishes, knowledge and original concepts.

There’s only one problem with the new breed of on-the-move chefs, and that’s tracking down just where your favourite restaurant is going to pop-up next.