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Once Upon a Kitchen: A Night with the World’s Greatest Chefs


By The Great Performances Team

On December 5th Great Performances had the privilege of producing a remarkable evening with the top three chefs in the world: Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy; Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain; and Mauro Colagreco of Restaurant Mirazur in Menton, France. We orchestrated this on behalf of the GR8 Group from Miami and the event, dubbed “Once Upon a Kitchen”, was held at one of our partner venues, Gotham Hall. This was our second time working with GR8 Group, as we supported Chef Massimo last year at his Great Arrival Saturday Dinner at Ellis Island. Coordinating three chefs was extremely challenging but also absurdly rewarding. As if that weren’t daunting enough, the great pastry chef Christina Tosi of Milk Bar in New York City prepared the dessert. Not only did we provide and source all of the ingredients at our kitchen for three days of preparation, but our culinary team stayed in sync with them during preparation and serve out. We also directed the show flow and called the timing of all three chefs, taking a turn on stage plating one of their courses in front of three hundred guests (including our Founder & CEO Liz Neumark and our President Dean Martinus).

I’ve never been more proud to be part of Great Performances. There we were working side by side with Massimo, Mauro and Joan along with their respective culinary teams, pairing up for each of the seven courses with five of their chefs and five of ours. There is no greater affirmation than when you are recognized by world class professionals. The great chefs could not have been more complimentary to our team. I have served presidents, kings and queens as well as thousands of clients over five decades as a chef, caterer and producer. But for me, personally, to collaborate and scheme with the undisputed top culinary minds in the world is unquestionably one of the highlights of my more than 50-year career in hospitality. – Ronnie Davis, Managing Director, Great Performances

As a chef striving to be great, the ability to catch a glimpse of greatness from the world’s top chefs required my attendance. It turned out to be the inspiration I needed to stay on this course and continue to push harder. Watching the top chefs manage their respective teams was magical. Everyone worked seamlessly together with an amazing flow. The food spoke for itself, simply tasting. You didn’t want to take the last bite. That night lit a spark in me that was much needed in my development: to strive for greatness everyday with no exceptions. – Corey Samuel, Chef De Cuisine, Dizzy’s Club


While the preparation in the days leading up to the event were challenging to the kitchen and facility itself, the event itself saw our chefs on a world stage, performing a tightly choreographed ballet with these world titans.

As the chef coordinating the event for Ronnie Davis, Managing Director at Great Performances, it was impressive to see our chefs Lauren, Shaquay, Justin, Jon, Corey, Aaron and Veronica maneuvering with finesse alongside cooks from around the world.

It is rewarding to hear from Massimo that he trusts us to control his food over anyone else in the city. – Robert Valencia, Executive Chef of Catering Production, Great Performances

It was amazing seeing and being a part of an event with four of the most acclaimed chefs in the world. Even though they are each from a different country, they had a common language and passion in a love for cuisine. – John Roode, Director of Purchasing, Great Performances

I have worked in the service industry for my entire professional career. In that time I have grown accustomed to making others’ dreams come true. Food service at this level is about creating once in a lifetime experiences every day of the week, but for the cook it is easy to fall into thinking that this is just a job and events are just another service. It is strange that a back of the house cook’s relationship to these events is so rarely considered. I found it ironic that for this event, by providing a once in a lifetime service for our guests, I, in turn, was receiving one. I was afforded the opportunity to work along side three world renowned Michelin Star Chefs with restaurants spread across Europe all in a single evening. The experience was surreal and wonderful.

As an aside, it was gratifying to face a difficult high volume service with a calm that I have earned through experience that our Michelin Star partners did not entirely share. And after working along side them, it was clear that we were every bit as good as they. Their world class technique married with our New York attitude and battle-hardened know-how truly did create a Great Performance. – Justin Schwartz, Production Sous Chef, Great Performances

Photo Credits: Ben Hider Images, Sarah Prawl