Following an almost unbroken string of culinary success, winning numerous awards and even bagging a TV spot cooking for Michel Roux Jr, on the UK BBC show Masterchef, The Professionals in 2012, Chef David Hetherington and his culinary compadre Chef Joe Hillier were really looking forward to 2020. Their new challenge seemed absolutely doable, to take a fairly remote tourist destination, The Bridge of Orchy Hotel in Argyll, Scotland, to the zenith of the UK's restaurant elite by creating new gems that showcase the best Scottish Highland ingredients in new and exciting ways.
Unfortunately, the keen instincts that could ensure that a fine dining extravaganza could be cooked, served and enjoyed at exactly the right conditions and timing, was unable to foresee the impending global disaster that is COVID-19. The subsequent realization by countries around the world, that the only responsible solution to the pandemic involved mass social distancing, was to be, if not a death-knell, then a pretty severe mortal wound to the ambitions of our Scottish chefs, alongside the ambitions and aspirations of thousands of professional chefs, as well as bread and butter cooks in eating establishments all across the planet.
Lockdown, as it was colloquially termed, was especially hard for David and Joe as they were bursting with creativity and energy ready to launch some of the best food they had ever created. If only there were some other way to keep the momentum going. Some other way to share these dining experiences that did not involve sitting in a crowded restaurant. Then, and there, the kernel of an idea, “wouldn’t it be great if we could just create a parallel universe where COVID-19 wasn’t a problem.” Joe, an avid gamer, knew a lot about parallel worlds - online.
Digital environments where virtual versions of just about anything was possible. Everything from virtual conferences, to live music performances, by stars like John Legend, to movie launches, by famous directors like JJ Abrams, were increasingly being produced, and attended by thousands of participants. Often these events had sponsorship, and it wasn’t uncommon to see major brands like AUDI or Netflix brandished. "Why can’t we just recreate our menus online". Show people what we have created and teach them how to cook them for themselves in the comfort of their own, socially-distant kitchen? Thus Culinary Clones was born.
We invite anyone listening or reading this, who are food lovers or cooking fans, to join our Culinary Clones Brigade, and see how we pull this off. There will be laughter, tears, and undoubted successes and disappointment, but we invite you all to share the ride with us.
Watch this space!