Speaking of Guest Chef, where rotating pop-up chefs come and cook their menus for two-week stints, something similar started at the St. Regis Aspen Resort last summer but with famous chefs from around the world. It’s called Chefs Club, and the inspiration for it came from Aspen Food & Wine, as the NYT reports. The founder is Stephane De Baets, a Bangkok-based money manager, and the plan is to open one in San Francisco by the end of this year, before opening a flagship Chefs Club in New York in 2014, neither of which will be located in hotels.
Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin — who, by the way, should be starting her annual tradition of tweeting riddles about this year’s crop of Best New Chefs next week — has been working with De Baets and suggesting possible locations for the venture, both in S.F. and N.Y. Also, the lineup of chefs comes at Cowin’s suggestion, beginning with the magazine’s Best New Chef honorees.
The deal is this: Each chef signs on for a certain number of months, creating several dishes for the à la carte menu at Chefs Club, and appearing at the Club for two long weekends of tasting-menu dinners. To get an idea, see the current Aspen menu here, featuring dishes by a quartet of chefs: Matthew Lightner (Atera in New York), Jenn Louis (Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern in Portland), Kevin Willmann (Farmhaus in St. Louis), and Jonathon Sawyer (Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland). As the Times puts it, it’s like a "commercial version" of the James Beard House in New York, and a pricey one at that. Dishes range from $14 to $62 on the à la carte menu, and the four-course tasting menus offered in Aspen are $150 without wine pairings.
Chef Didier Elena, an Alain Ducasse alum, was recently hired to oversee the Aspen kitchen and all the upcoming Chefs Clubs as well. Elena helps execute the dishes created by the other chefs in their absence, you see. And De Baets says he hopes this will be "a global enterprise."
Stay tuned for news on the S.F. location once there is one.