Around our Plates

Last week, the first immersive restaurant in France opened in Paris, inside the MK2 Bibliothèque movie theater. A hundred covers in 700 m2: this is Ephemera. A name that flies the flag since the themes will be renewed several times a year. “Under the sea” opens the season. Nothing better than the sea and the ocean floor for a 100% immersive experience promised thanks to carefully designed decor (just like in the movies) combined with digital visual content in the form of lively pictures where sharks, rays and squids follow one another from the lagoon to the abyss. The chef imagines the dishes, then adapts the light, sound and temperature to the story he wants to tell in order to arouse all the senses. The idea here is to eliminate any parasitic element unrelated to the dish and to influence the perception of taste by appealing to different areas of the brain. All this for a relatively affordable price, around 50 euros.

Themed restaurants have been around for a long time. Some combine a show with a meal or invite an opera singer. Others will make you eat in the dark, a memorable experience. None in France has yet ventured into visual immersion. And yet. Only consider the success of the Atelier des Lumières, born in Paris and now in several French cities, to be convinced of the relevance of adding a table to the show. By projecting images of paintings on very large screens with a musical background chosen to provoke the desired emotion, the Atelier des Lumières attracts a large and family audience that does not spontaneously feel attracted to museums. A public more in search of sensations and moments of sharing than of knowledge and academic culture. A young public, too, used to the immersions offered by video games and virtual reality headsets and fond of technological innovations.

For a few years now, the restaurant industry has been fueled by the inventiveness and vitality of televised chefs who are driven by the idea of deconstructing, reinventing, and surprising in order to offer unique experiences. Why shouldn’t it also speak to a wider audience than that of fine dining fans? After being in the plate, the show could, tomorrow, be around our plates.

So What ?

Born in Asia, the immersive restaurant concept will arrive in France if chefs agree to consider themselves as stage directors. Make way for curated and sensibilized menus.

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