Are chef collabs really worth it?

02 October, 2018 by
Shannon Martinez

It seems like you can’t scroll through Instagram for more than five seconds these days without coming across a post for a collab, and to be honest, I’m finding myself being less and less interested in them. Let’s be real — what used to be an event that saw actual collaboration between chefs and restaurants has slowly turned into an excuse to have a piss up with mates in another state (flights and accommodation covered).

Now, this isn’t to say that all collabs are like this. By any means, I’ve been to some great events in the past. But unless the two businesses are actually teaming up to create new dishes and incorporate both chefs’ backgrounds and styles, what exactly is the point?

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Personally, I’m very picky about the collabs I agree to be involved in. I basically have one rule: only say yes if both parties can learn something from each other. Oh, and that it’s going to be fun, because these events are a whole lot of work (okay, okay, two rules).

Seeing as though vegan food is kinda my thing, I’ve intentionally made a point to only do collabs with non-vegan chefs and restaurants.

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Teaming up with the likes of Duncan Welgemoed of Africola, Morgan McGlone of Belles Hot Chicken, Jimmy Garside from The Unicorn and Mike Patrick from Fancy Hank’s BBQ gives you an idea of exactly what I mean when I talk about doing something truly different and original.

It’s exciting, it’s weird and the results that come from creating an all-vegan menu with a chef that normally relies on their meat and dairy arsenal leads to some amazing creativity, and the turnout and media hype these events create has always been huge.

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So here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about jumping into the world of collabs:

  • If you want your event to stand out and be truly successful and worthwhile, do something different from your regular day to day.
  • Be picky. Don’t say yes to every person that offers. What can start off as excitement from customers that they have a chef from interstate in town for one night only can quickly turn into, “Oh, old mate’s cooking here — again.”
  • Don’t do collabs as a way to make money because generally you won’t. It’s not really the point.
  • Only work with people you respect and enjoy being around. Collabs can be very stressful, and you don’t want to find yourself busting your ass for some jerk and going home a wreck.
  • A takeover is not a collab.