Wylie Dufresne and some of the finest culinary technicians operating today
Wylie Dufresne and some of the finest culinary technicians operating today

Wylie Dufresne's big surprise

Magnus Nilsson, Alex Atala and René Redzepi go undercover for the foodie event of the year

Phaidon chefs, Magnus Nilsson, Daniel Patterson, Alex Atala and René Redzepi were among some of the greatest culinary minds in the world who gathered in New York this week for a surprise dinner in honour of Wylie Dufresne. Dufresne, of course, was one of the earliest, progenitors of the molecular gastronomy movement, bringing an urban, occasionally  playful quality to the form. Invites were super select but naturally, Phaidon was there in the form of our Executive Commissioning Editor, Cookbooks & Lifestyle, Emily Takoudes, who takes up the story. 

“The email invitation came the night before the event. Number one: Was I free tomorrow night for a hush hush secret dinner with amazing chefs? Number two: follow #logladies, and Number three: Get there early before the guest arrives for the big surprise. It got more mysterious when I got to the location on the lower east side and saw Wylie Dufresne's restaurant WD-50 covered in brown paper. It turned out, nearly thirty of the world’s greatest chefs, including five Phaidon authors, were represented. They would be collaborating and reinterpreting Dufresne’s dishes for the 65 or so guests (each chef could invite two people and there was some press).  

 

Wylie Dufresne and friends
Wylie Dufresne and friends

"And the surprise guest was Dufresne himself, having no idea that these culinary luminaries had descended on his own restaurant, after meticulous and secretive planning for six months."

In the days preceeding the event, the chefs gathered in a secret locale in Brooklyn, prepping in apartments and New York City kitchens, and they tried to keep a low profile, so word wouldn’t get out that they were all in town. 

Wylie was lured to his restaurant on his night off after being told that an electrical outage threatened the food in the walk in fridges. It was all the mastermind of Andrea Petrini of Gelinaz in conjunction with San Pellegrino as a sponsor. "It was an extraordinary evening," says Emily, "full of vision, an incredible and inspiring collaborative spirit, and of course, outstanding food.”

You can watch a video of the event here and Time Magazine's Lisa Abend has a great on the spot report from the days preceeding the event. And If you want to know why so many Phaidon chefs were there the food section of our online bookstore will provide the answer.