Now that’s what I call Immersive Dining

Andy - January 2020

After a meteoric rise in Immersive Dining in 2019, immersive experience experts Scene2’s COO Susan Walker, is on the search for the best on offer in 2020.

“The Alchemist” in Copenhagen currently has a waiting list of 6,000 people. What restaurant does not want to boast that figure?  That’s 6,000 people eager to have a dining experience; an experience that is more than just amazing food that looks and tastes great.  In 2020 the immersive dining experience remains in demand.

Extravagant & inventive are words we all want to see and hear when our work is reviewed and Denmark boasts this latest offering of a unique gastronomic experience which fits the bill. Taking immersive dining to a new level by mixing theatre, technology and cookery, this new concept by Head Chef Rasmus Munk sets the pathway in our new decade.

This 24,000 sq foot, 3 storey high, 4-hour long experience is sited in an old shipyard and spread across an incredible 50 courses, all paired with drinks. This concept aims to be gimmick-free keeping its core values of high-quality menu & presentation throughout whilst focusing on sustainability. 2 years in the creation, Munk claims to have created his perfect menu spread across a mammoth 50 courses which include edible plastic and sauces which have been fermented for five years.

Here’s the techy bit.  Working closely with AV designers, The Alchemist includes an atmospheric dome filled with projections, neon tunnel soundscape & atmospheric lighting.  As with all great lighting design, darkness is key to the success of the creation of this parallel universe.

Entering through a giant Medieval bronze gateway, visitors’ expectation is set of a grand banquet.  Once through the entrance, Room 1 immediately blows expectation away with a New York themed, brightly coloured experience where the first taste, is an edible scroll of paper.  This room re-sets expectation to one of embracing culture, food, architecture and music.

The journey continues into the lab kitchen flanked by vaulted chambers of fine wine. The showstopping, planetarium inspired, main dome which is intended to be a spiritual, atmospheric experience invites diners to immerse themselves in animation for the next 30 courses.  Northern lights & floating jellyfish are paired with soundscapes, details that have been given as much attention as the food that has been paired with the wine.

Despite this seemingly communal dining hall, The Alchemist is designed to remind guests that they are individuals who have a choice when it comes to fine dining. Many immersive dining experiences run the risk of losing the intimacy of fine dining by herding diners through their meals, becoming almost experience canteens, in an attempt to increase footfall, maximise efficiencies in delivery and minimise journey time.  There are session times at The Alchemist but whether one takes 4 hours or 6 to enjoy the whole experience is up to the visitor to travel through at their own chosen pace.  Everyone has their own immersive pace after all.

When the main dome courses are complete, an actor in an LED suit offers an edible seahorse before guiding diners through an LGBTQ themed, neon, soundscape tunnel where the inspiration for dishes is shared in a Chef seminar before a Japanese-style Tea Ceremony marks the end of the journey.

Theatre gives us storytelling, ceremony and ritual, all of which go into the concept of this immersive dining experience where diners are free to promenade through acts & scenes – even the menu is divided into theatrical scenes.

Munk’s aim was to mix theatre, space, technology and dining to present an alternative dining experience without creating a circus.

In a recent blog article, I highlighted that the key to success when designing immersive dining experiences lies in theatre and with the values of close attention to detail and high-quality finish. The Alchemist creates an alternative theatrical dimension so that it’s diners to feel they are in another world.  It is essential that this high-quality illusion is delivered faultlessly and here theatre & these values provide the perfect vehicle.

This article has been inspired by AV Magazine Jan 2020.

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