Hotel giant Accor says it has identified a new trend in hotel restaurant cuisine and is exploiting it in the expectation of attracting greater numbers of guests. It says that chefs are coming out from behind the scenes to take front stage, making the restaurant into a show venue. With visits to the cellar and dishes prepared in front of diners, new restaurant practices are giving guests not only the pleasures of taste but also to have an experience of food as art – and often the performance art of the open kitchen.
For ten years or so, people have been talking of “culinary design”. According to Marc Bretillot, professor at the ESAD art and design school in Rheims, France, any meal is part of a wider framework – lighting and furniture included – that gives it meaning. For example, "Cake 364", an "unbirthday" cake inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, is served to a single diner, surrounded by mirrors that reflect his or her image, to the sounds of a music-box. Bretillot has now joined forces with pastry chef Fabrice Le Bourdat.
Other duos have distinguished themselves, such as Claudio Colucci, the designer of the renovation of the Novotel Marseille Vieux-Port, and pastry chef Sébastien Gaudard. They have worked together on the opening of the Délicabar, the Bon Marché department store's "chic snack bar".
[pictured: Sofitel Accor chefs; photo courtesy Accor]