Immersive cuisine

Not immersive as in a sous vide water bath. From a craft steeped in tradition, modern cooking has realized how many possibilities there really are when you look. One of the more novel aspects has been the deliberate manipulation of multisensory experience – the 6th sense as Ferran described it – a sense beyond the sense of food itself.

Heston and Ferran were pioneers in this regard, but new technologies mean it can be experienced in even more inventive and immersive ways.

A stunning example is an opera in 12 courses – El Somni (the dream) first presented (February 2013) in Barcelona.

The Roca brothers (El Celler de Can Roca) designed the menu in association with commissioned operatic work conducted by Zubin Mehta and directed by Franc Aleu.

It combines multi-sensory technology including wall and table projection and sound to control and manipulate the environment in which the meal is experienced. It is more than eating; perhaps immersive cuisine or techno-emotion.

Chefs working at the limits of their discipline, realizing those limits are boundaries, once recognized, that can be crossed. “Failure is awesome”.

“El Somni”, a film by Franc Aleu & El Celler de Can Roca (Promo) from El Somni on Vimeo.

The 12 diners, chosen because they are explorers: Ferran Adrià, chef of El Bulli; Rafael Argullol, novelist, poet and essayist; Miquel Barceló, artist; Joël Candau, anthropologist specializing in sensory science; Bonaventura Clotet, HIV research expert; Nandita Das, actress and director; Abderrahmane Kheddar, exploring the science of virtual reality and humanoid robotics; Ben Lehner, a leading biologist and researcher; Harold McGee, author specializing in the chemistry, technique and history of food and cooking; Freida Pinto, actress; Josep Pons, music director of the Liceu Barcelona Opera House; Lisa Randall, theoretical physicist.

el somni preparació 2

el somni preparació 6

el somni preparació 14

el somni sopar 3

el somni 6

el somni 7

Now, restaurants are exploring. For example Ultraviolet, in the parallel universe that is Shanghai, and SubliMotion, perhaps unexpectedly in the Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, Spain (those Spaniards again). Same planet, different world.

“Tonight, they will feel, that’s all.”