October 1, 2015
The Nomadic Chef’s Table
Calling themselves the Nomadic Chef’s Table, Jake Pregnell is one of five head chefs from some of the Coast’s most loved venues who are sharing cutting boards and kitchens to raise money for various charities.
We’ve all heard the old proverb ‘sharing is caring’ so when friend and fellow chef Michael passed away earlier this year, local chef Jake Pregnell realised it was time to put words into action. “Michael was always encouraging people to give back to others, everything he did was about the community,” says Jake, “so in a way it’s in memory of him.”
Five nights. Five months. Five courses. Five charities. The idea behind the Nomadic Chef’s Table came from Jake Pregnell’s time in Melbourne where he worked for influential and successful restaurateur, Neil Perry.
“All of his old chefs went overseas and when they came back they started doing The Revolving Table,” explains Jake. “They were famous. They’d pretty much walk into a restaurant and say hey we’re taking over for the night.” The food scene on the Coast is a close knit one and the owner of Corbin’s Kitchen & Wine Bar had no trouble finding other chefs interested in joining the table.
Patrick, Chad, David and Zarko were each eager to donate their time, culinary skills and night’s profit while having some cooking fun. The plan being to rotate the charity dinners to each of their respective venues (Elliotts Bistro, Peak Wine Bar, The Velo Project and The Dessert Architects).
“We each knew at least one person in the group,” says Jake, explaining each chef was either a friend, or a friend of a friend.
When Jake first mentioned the idea to his futsal teammate Patrick, he was on board straight away. “It’s only one day out of your life,” says Patrick. “It’s nice to do something to give back to the community, and it’s also a way of getting our business out there too.”
Together, the professional chefs aim not only to help worthy causes but to encourage locals to branch out and try other restaurants. “We’re all helping each other by giving each other customers,” says Jake. “It’s just using our skills to help others, that’s what it’s all about really.”
Over a cold beer at the bar, the boys hash out the finer details deciding to host the charity dinners on the second Wednesday of each month.
“We usually have a meeting every couple of weeks down at the Solbar. We have a couple of drinks and decide what we’re going to do next,” says Patrick.
Life in the kitchen can be somewhat monotonous and the dinners are a nice change of pace for the chefs who’ve decided not only to rotate kitchens, but courses as well. Giving each of them a chance to come up with and prepare different dishes.
“We go to work and do the same thing every day, we still enjoy it but when you do this you’ve actually got to think on your toes,” says Jake.
Keeping things local, they’ve each chosen five smaller charities to raise funds for. “Whoever hosts the event chooses the charity,” says Patrick. As idea instigator, Jake’s Asian-style restaurant was the stop back in August. Jake tells me Corbin’s Kitchen is not a huge space, add another four head chefs (plus three photographers on event night) and it could have easily been a recipe for disaster. “It was crazy I don’t know how we did it … and with my injury,” Jake says pointing to his foot bound in a cast, thanks to a futsal injury. But Jake insists it was a fun, no fuss night. Just like good mates at a cook up. “We were just hanging out with the boys, all the jokes were coming out,” he says.
“Once we got in the kitchen we were all in our comfort zones. Five qualified chefs working together is actually a lot easier. You forget how good it can be.”
The hard work doesn’t just happen behind the scenes. While the boys are busy in the back, they recruit the help of their partners and apprentices out the front. With their third event being held this month, they’ve already raised thousands of dollars and the interest of other chefs wanting to get involved.
December may not be the final seating for the nomadic chefs and they haven’t dismissed the idea of continuing after the holiday season. “You know, the nomadic table … it keeps moving around,”smiles Jake.