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The gastronomy has crossed the kitchen walls and chefs are increasingly looking for new intersections with different disciplines where technology, music and even staging can bring an innovative dinner format for their guests. In the era of experience, how we eat is just as important as what we put in our plates.
Inventive experiences in the dining scene are not something totally new: since elBulli, service is being taken more seriously for a remarkable dinner. But the words "performance" and "gastronomy" have only been stitched together more recently, in cutting-edge projects such as Ultraviolet, in Shanghai, where chef Paul Pairet melds lights, sound, theater, of course, scents, and flavors in a fully immersive dinner; and Sublimotion, created in Ibiza by Spanish chef Paco Roncero, which is helping to change the rules of the game.
Sublimotion, a one of a kind project
“I have no doubt that we will talk more and more of performance allied to concepts of gastronomy. People are looking for increasingly intriguing meals. And we'll have to find new ways to surprise them”, says the chef who has two Michelin stars for his restaurant Terraza del Casino, in Madrid. He explains exemplifying that more and more restaurants are designing their dishes, seeking a choreography when it comes to serving the recipes in the room, focusing on the music they play. “It's not always a top-notch performance on every plate, as we do in Sublimotion, but they seem to care more and more about that”, he adds.
In his pop up restaurant in Ibiza, which opens only four months a year, Roncero conjures gastronomy, technology, cinema, music, design, and engineering to create a unique culinary experience beyond compare. The current season, which began in June (and runs until September), unveils dishes coming from the ceiling in glass spheres, a "flight" to Mexico (where diners can taste stellar in-flight meal created by Slovenian chef Ana Rós), a quick visit to a French-style cabaret (with a virtual musical concert) and even a disco party of the 1990s - all in the same space, in the same night.
"We work hard every year to create new things, to bring innovative concepts," he says. For this year, he has invited great talents from the world of technology, cinema, music, design, and engineering to join the Sublimotion team. The illusionist Jorge Blas, for example, has crafted exclusive tricks for the project, while Emmy winner composer Lucas Vidal has joined to put together the Sublimotion soundtrack.
For the gastronomic section, the team was integrated only by women, who helped create the creative menu served (at the cost of 1,650 euros per person): Peruvian chef Pía León (Best Latin American Female Chef 2018), Spanish chef Elena Arzak, and pastry chef Janice Wong (Asia's Best Pastry Chef 2015) from Singapore, as well as Ana Rós. "It was a challenge to work with chefs who are in other parts of the world. But we ended up with a very distinctive and original menu, which is the main focus of Sublimotion", he explains. Every year, everything changes: menu, dishware, musical presentations, etc.
From Ibiza to the rest of the world
"Sublimotion is a one of a kind project. And the fact that we are not a regular restaurant allows us to do whatever our creativity dictates", he says. Roncero, however, is preparing to expand the brand and take the concept of "gastronomic performance" to other cities: the next plans are a more prominent restaurant in Madrid and another in Singapore, to be inaugurated until 2020.
“The format we have in Ibiza is consolidated. Now the goal is to take Sublimotion to other audiences as well, to other people". He explains that the focus is not to replicate what he has been doing for six years in Ibiza: "The city has a unique characteristic, an international audience with lots of money, open mind, that seeks fun above all else. In other cities, it's going to be a less exclusive format, but still focusing on performances”, he adds.
Roncero says that since the first year of Sublimotion they received proposals to take the concept to other countries, but he did not feel ready to take that step at that time. “The early years were years of learning the business model. And since last year, we finally feel prepared to replicate it. We needed to learn how to run it as a business first”, he concludes.
Now, he believes, Sublimotion is ready to conquer other places in the world - and take the concept of gastronomic performance to a broader public.