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31 August 2013

Tonight's Episode: Interview with Cook It Raw's Alessandro Porcelli

Rene Rdzepi (Noma), Daniel Patterson (Coi) and David Chang (Momofuku)


Cook It Raw is perhaps the most anticipated culinary adventure around. For the last few years, CIR has brought together the greatest culinary minds working in the world's finest kitchens for a collaboration with local farmers, hunters, foragers, and craftsmen for one-off dinners unlike anything you have ever or will ever see. 

Cook It Raw came to public awareness when Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations followed the event (and Charleston Chef Sean Brock) to Japan. Now, for the first time, the public will have a chance to join in the fun when Cook It Raw BBQ Perspectives comes to Charleston ($100, Oct 26 2013), bringing in 40 chefs from around the world (everyone from Albert Adria of Tickets in Barcelona to Phil Wood of Rockpool in Sydney) to show their own spin on Lowcountry BBQ and all things local.  The focus on the local bounty is a thematic necessity of the event. 

Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana), Petter Nilsson (La Gazzetta), Magnus Nilsson (Fläviken), Fredrick Anderson (Mistral)

I was lucky enough to score an interview with Cook It Raw Director and Founder Alessandro Porcelli. This Italian ex-pat has been a driving force in turning Denmark into one of the world's culinary destinations. His first book, a compendium of Cook it Raw events, is available now.



Foodmancing The Girl: If you could, just explain why the general public should pay attention to Cook it Raw?



Alessandro: Cook It Raw is a blank canvas that at the end of each gathering it turns into a painting, drawn by heterogeneous minds and expert hands dedicated to highlight unique foodways through collaboration, creativity, tradition and sustainability. We encourage chefs, producers, artisans, farmers and academics to think as a team and to learn from each other. We work with the visiting country and its people to portray, together with a number of chefs and us from the organisation, a cultural food snapshot of a specific area creating an arena or exchange of ideas while allowing the flow of connectivity to spark new friendships and mindful experiences. Basically our main aim is to support changes in the way we're looking at food at all levels, from avant-garde cuisine to everyday cooking.

FTG: What is it about getting the chefs out of the restaurant that seems to get them so jazzed to participate?



Alessandro: Chefs, as many other creative professionals, are subject to routines. Routines are the antithesis of creativity. Cook it raw breaks this chain allowing chefs to experience people and culture and content which take 1 year to put together.


FTG: Up til now, Cook it Raw has been an invitation-only event. Why open it to the public?


Alessandro: Cook it Raw still is and will remain a gathering for a limited number of participants. It's a learning and engaging experience that is organized and documented better and better as we learn from it and grow with it. We want to share this experience through communicating it in as many ways and means as possible. The public event we're having this year is to share the dining aspect with a larger number of consumers.







FTG: What is it about BBQ in general, and Charleston in particular, that led to the decision to have this event here? Not that I am complaining, but going from Ishikawa and Poland to South Carolina seems rather odd.



Alessandro: Cook it Raw is about understanding and innovation, and the BBQ and Lowcountry cuisine that come out of Charleston provide a unique opportunity to do just that. This cuisine is a confluence of cultures, and Charleston is a place where modern chefs and producers are taking a strong look at the heritage and the complex history of the place to innovate moving forward. Charleston has just as much to offer to the international culinary conversation as Copenhagen or Collio, and we are here to learn and be inspired.




FTG: This is a question that we have debated after a few drinks: if you were one of two survivors of a plane crash in the Andes, what chef would you want along for the ride?



Alessandro: Without a doubt Eric Werner (Heartwood), not only he'll build us a spectacular wooden oven but he'll hunt down anything that moves and find any edible stuff men and animals can think, while having a great conversation!!!




(Photos by Eric Refner and Eric Olsson)

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