Sensory Food Experience: The Four Seasons



Weather, colourful light, nature sounds and fragrance were used to trigger the senses and experience the seasons in all their powerful glory.

Concept
To explore Mother Nature’s moods in the seasons and intertwine it into a sensory dinner experience with a strong aural and visual inclusion.
Held in a gallery space – The Spier Secret Courtyard pop-up in May 2014, Wale street, Cape Town.

All the senses were addressed in each course
Hear | Feel | See | Smell | Taste
Hear – I mixed a soundtrack that flowed with each course. I used sounds found in nature, weather sounds and softly introduced Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at certain times during each course.
See - I coloured the room with 7 specialty lights (Trilogy Music did a fantastic job) and controlled it from a DMX board – 1000’s of hues of light. I could control the brightness and intensity of the hues.
Smell - I used fragrance and flavoured smoke to invigorate the smell sense in Autumn (burning wood) and the last Spring course (jasmine fragrance).
Taste - I designed and cooked all the courses to represent the epitome, in my opinion, of that season’s food. I worked with the notion of nostaligia ie: What is the taste of summer, to me?

The courses and sensory elements
- The menu was a transparent hand-stitched bag filled with wild herbs that I foraged in the mountains of the Western Cape.
– I created a 2 metre high installation above the guests’ heads that represented clouds. I used culinary wax paper and they were very full, light and wispy.
– I used fans to make the ‘clouds’ rustle and move at certain times.
– Solar jars were turned into little terrariums using stones, moss, succulents and fynbos.
– Golden spiders, centipedes, frogs, scorpions, dinosaurs and buck were placed in and around the terrariums and the table.
– Bespoke fire plate for Winter.
– Handmade Jasmine fragrance for the ‘Spray me, I’m Spring’ bottles served with the last course.

Spring
Tweeting birds, crickets and meadow sounds | The colours were soft pinks and light purples | A plate with a base of almond ‘soil’, shaved fresh vegetables, orange pepper puree, lemon infusion vinaigrette, edible flowers.
Summer
Waves start softly and become louder as the tweeting birds fade out and beach sounds with seagulls. Vivaldi makes an entrance here in soft volumes | Light and sunshine yellows | Crispy calamari with spicy mayonnaise, fresh oysters, coconut and lime slushie on an enamel plate with foraged shells and seaweed.
Autumn
Soft rain starts above the sea sounds and the waves to become louder, rain gets a little harder towards the end of the course with a little soft rolling thunder | There is a  little wind and the ‘clouds’ above the heads of the diners, begin to rustle | Yellows turn to darker oranges and light fades to cooler blues | Burn oak chips in a hand-held smoker and infuse it into the room | Bone marrow with wild mushroom, hazelnuts and porcini red wine jus.
Winter
Thunder and lightning in flashes, shard rain turns to hail – the sound lulls and turns to the sound of a crackling fire with soft rain on a roof | The wind is strong and the ‘clouds’ go a bit wild, then die down | Cool blue turns to intense cold blues and then as the crackling fire starts, the room becomes a deep, warm orange | Pork and bean spiced casserole on fire plates.
Spring
Crackling fire dies down and the frogs start to sing with some light rain, becoming birds tweeting | The deep oranges become lighter and go to yellow and into light purples and pinks | The fragrance is sprayed and each guest is given a little bottle to spray into the air – a subtle Spring Jasmine | Cardamom and kaffir lime leaf infused panna cotta, hibiscus syrup and golden chocolate frogs.

I’d like to take this to a larger scale in 2015 as it was so well received. Watch this space…

 

Thank you to my team and all who contributed to this wonderful experience.
Most of the images by a photographer from spiersecret.co.za