INTERVIEW II CHLOÉ MORRIS TELLS SAUCY DRESSINGS HOW SHE CAME TO SET UP EDIBLE STORIES – AN EXTRAORDINARY EVENT COMPANY WHICH HARNESSES ALL THE SENSES OF ITS GUESTS

by SAUCY DRESSINGS

I first found out about the incredible Edible Stories offering after I’d been to the Food Hacking workshop hosted by Professor Charles Spence at Cambridge University…. Unfortunately I didn’t meet the founder, Chloé Morris, when I was there, it was only afterwards that I noticed Edible Stories were posting extraordinary happenings on Instagram using the same ‘sensory food’ hashtags as I was. Idea after idea kept appearing and eventually I just had to find out where they all came from and how this idea had become so successful.

I’m very grateful to Chloé for answering my questions so fully – it’s an inspiring story. Chloé is a sultry French-South African with a Masters in narrative environments. She founded Edible Stories in 2012 to create playful food and drink events which harnessed all the senses. She is a Fellow of the Future of Storytelling (FoST) and has appeared as the keynote speaker at the International Food Design Conference in New Zealand.

 

SD: What gave you the idea to set up Edible Stories?…. what, if you like, is the story behind Edible Stories?

CM: I’m a certified interior architect and product designer. And I came to London for a masters in Narrative Environments at Central Saint Martins. I wanted to create spaces in which people could be themselves and escape the real world, in which they could escape the expectations and pressures of their jobs or society.

And I knew I wanted to do something with food, beautifully designed spaces, people and most importantly, that I wanted to be part of their journey. So I decided to look at events. At the time Immersive Narrative events weren’t that much of a thing. We obviously had the main ones such as Secret Cinema and Punch Drunk. But intimate dining experiences with a narrative were at that time quite rare (I came before the hype).

I started hosting events for five people that were in the industry: designers, food designers, architects, etc, individuals that would be critical of the experience and allow me to push it further and challenge myself and the experience more. I followed these smaller case study events (all free for guests by the way…) by a series of pop ups – two days every two months to be exact – on a secret story in a different venue each time, where guests would find out the venue about a week before (using the very successful model that Secret Cinema created).

I did this for a year and sold out every single pop up. After realising that I wanted to always do more for my guests (and this did not always fit within the budget) I decided to concentrate on corporate and private client events. And this is where the story of what we do now begins.

 

 

SD: You founded Edible Stories in 2012 – how has it evolved since then? What have been the challenges? What have been the surprises? 

CM: It all began with the five person (non-paying) events I mentioned above. Then there were 20-40 person events twice every two months (ticketed), and finally corporate and private clients.

Challenges have been mainly been around budgeting properly and getting the right teams in. This has taken a lot of practice, failures, and conflicts but on the other hand they have all made the experience so much more worthwhile. And now we have a successful model in place which allows us to work at pretty much any venue in London, for any scale with the best quality of food and service possible. We have created a database of suppliers which we can call for pretty much any request, and this would not have been possible if we got it ‘right’ the first time.

The biggest surprise I think for me was the openness our customers had to the experience and the support we received from some of them. At the start I was doing all the cooking myself. I’m not a chef, nor a trained cook but I love food and have a good understanding of what goes and doesn’t go together. And I also know what looks good on a plate, and how to challenge the eating or serving method. But in many other countries, I don’t think Edible Stories would have been accepted with such open arms.

 

SD: Tell us a bit about the market for the service Edible Stories provides, what are the social trends, why are people wanting this sort of celebration?

CM: As I mentioned earlier, when I started Edible Stories it was before the time where immersive dining was really an offering at all. Very few people were doing it, as a ticketed pop-up experience, it was new, although it had already been pioneered by Heston Blumenthal in a restaurant setting. So I think because it was different, it was exciting. There weren’t many of us offering this kind of edible experience. I think I would have had a very different experience had I started this company now. I don’t think it would have created as much of a hype, because every other company is now doing it.

I think the main thing that makes Edible Stories different from everyone else is that we are very stripped back in set design. We do the essential (obviously for private clients this is different because if the client wants more we will provide it). But for public events it was up to us. It was all about giving every prop, every element, every colour, a purpose. Nothing was there just because it was cool or pretty. Every element that found its way into the room or the space was there for a reason. Equally with the food. I hate gimmick. So I made sure that we used techniques and special ingredients only where appropriate.

Edible Stories

“We intentionally left elements out that would trigger conversation.”. In this event (Hansel and Gretel) the blind old witch asks Hansel to stick out his finger to see if he has put on enough weight for her to eat him…. but he puts out a branch instead. In this case the lucky guests get to take on the persona of the witch, and the branch is made with rose flavoured Turkish delight, coated in popping candy.

What I noticed was that people were striving to engage. It was funny to see in a city where speaking in the tube is considered as invasion of privacy. At our dinners, guests would very quickly start to speak with strangers around the table. We intentionally left elements out that would trigger conversation. They were allowed, for one night, to leave all their inhibitions at the door and just be themselves. And at the time, I guess that was a need that many people had.

I would also add that, we were never forcing people to engage. And this also makes us different. In many events actors will come and break up your date, or interrupt your conversation. We made sure to identify our audience. Those who wanted to engage could and would fully. Those who just wanted something a bit different set in a great space, but wanted a quiet intimate dinner, would also fully be allowed to have this.

 
SD: Where do you get your best ideas and inspirations from?

CM: So firstly where do I get my inspiration from. I wouldn’t limit it to anything. As it can be anywhere. I get it from fashion, from Pinterest, from restaurants, from parks, from TV programs, from materials, the list is endless really. Some days and times of the days I will be more inspired than others. I think this is for all creative people. But when I am in the zone things do just flow out. I can have one concept image sometimes or one very strong work for the event and things just come into my head.

This question is actually really hard to answer, because often I’m not aware of the moment I find my inspiration and it comes back to me when I am at the drawing board… or all comes together in one of my dreams (so I have to write or draw it in my bedside notebook) – but below is a list of some of my favourite sources:

 

sensuous dinning events

Some inspiration comes from the make up of fashion models

Fashion: It can be how materials have been put together, or colours, or the makeup models wear (which we have used in one of our events for Founders Forum)

Restaurants: If I ever see something served in a unique way, or taste an ingredient for the first time, or an ingredient is used in a way I haven’t seen before (for example: grated fois gras).

Parks: I think this would be more in terms of types of foliage, greenery, I take a lot of inspiration from nature for our sets (when appropriate), and at the start when we were producing all the sets ourselves, I would actually use a lot of natural elements taken from my garden or the forest…

Materials: Similar to ‘Fashion’, I go to material labs, and showrooms to look at the materials which could inspire me for tableware, plating techniques, and other uses.

 

I’m also a member of FoST (Future of Storytelling). This was one of my big revelations and it’s what made me come back to London and start to work within corporate and private client world. A friend of mine introduced me to Charles Melcher, the founder, who subsequently asked me to host a dinner for him and his friends. He was coming to London in a week and he wanted to test it first hand before exposing this brand new concept to his attendees. So I had a week to find a venue, redesign a menu, and find staff. I pulled in some favours, and found an amazing house near High Street Kensington. I managed to get it for the price of an expensive restaurant for two (I sent the owners to dinner) and set up shop. I chose to do Hansel and Gretel. It was the most incredible evening. Only lit by candles, with five very influential guests, including Felix Barret the founder of Punch Drunk, at my table. After that he invited me as a Fellow to experience FOST and discuss possible partnerships.

The Hansel and Gretel event... very short notice.

The Hansel and Gretel event… very short notice.

We also spent almost a year in residence at Library. It had just opened and their restaurant St Luke was non-existent. We had big plans for this place. We hosted Phantom of The Opera, Les Miserables, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Matilda, Alice in Wonderland and James Bond here. It was a very tasking time, as I was hosting about four days a week and the hours were insane. But was incredible for social media content, following, and just a great platform to showcase our work.

 
SD: Could you give a couple of examples of your favourite stories?

CM: Ha! So 50 Shades of Grey. We’ve hosted this event four times now, and every time it was different.

50 shades of grey

50 shades of grey – a very sexy voice over

I think my favourite were the smaller events. But we did do it for 60 people in partnership with Nude Noir for Valentines (and when the film came out) and that was very popular.

The main idea behind the event was not to be distasteful or too raunchy. But rather to play with the senses. It was a fully multisensory experience as each course concentrated on one of the senses. The thought was to create that tingle people get when they are excited but with food and interaction (the way it was served).

We started off the experience by having all of our guests blindfolded. This was to set the tone for the evening. They were to be submissive and be instructed how to consume their dish. With a pre recorded overvoice they were told how to eat their dish, this was done with an extremely sensual voice, very evocative words, and long pauses and deep breaths.

During another course guests hands were tied and they needed to lick the cocktail in front of them.

The dessert was a sharing plate which included elements of pleasure and pain, and hot and cold, and their only cutlery was a paintbrush.

 

SD: How do you create and assign roles?

CM: At our public events, it depends more on where you happen to sit really. But the roles are less specific to characters and more just being part of the story as a non specific character, more of a participant. Or if it is a private client event, the client will often tell me who they want to have a more active role, a more cheeky role, and who we should leave alone.

 

 
SD: What are you looking for in your suppliers – could you give an example of how one has creatively surprised you?

CM: The three things I look for most in a supplier are: compatibility; being on brand; and just being a joy to work with. I think they are all very important, but the last one is my number one. I’ve stopped working with many suppliers because of the way they have handled certain situations, or their lack of professionalism. I need to be able to trust that a supplier can be left in a room with my client and not say something out of line, or respond in an aggressive tone or other.

Edible Stories

The Italian pagoda at Satoria

I recently was working on a job and we had been introduced to a new supplier. We had a site visit with the client and after a couple weeks it turned out that they simply couldn’t offer the particular service we were specifying. So instead of just leaving us to it, they not only introduced us to someone who would be able to take on the job at such short notice, but also relayed all the information and prep work we had already done. This saved us a lot of time, stress and also didn’t make us look bad in front of the client.

I don’t think the challenges I’ve set our suppliers have been TOO extreme up to date. But we had to set up a two day Italian pagoda at the Satoria restaurant. We had the day before to install and we worked until the very last minute to make it perfect. The installation was immense. The event was the press launch of House of Peroni.

 

SD: How can things go wrong…. and be salvaged?

CM: One of my worst experiences was my very first public pop up. We had hired an amazing church for our Adam and Eve event and had been to IKEA to buy all glassware, crockery, and cutlery. Well pretty much everything really. At the time it was all coming out of my pocket and it was cheaper to buy and use again throughout the year than rent. We’d set everything up behind screens as the kitchens were tiny and we needed space to prep all the dishes and have them laid out.

It was 20 minutes before guests were due to arrive. Remember Edible Stories was a company no one had heard of before, guests had already paid, and we’d only that week given them the location which ended up being a backdoor of some building in London. And then, suddenly, the electricity cuts off! Our saving grace was that we had candle lit all the tables already and that the stove was gas. One of the waitstaff went to tell guests that we were running a couple minutes behind and asked if they could patiently wait. At this point another one of the waitstaff bumps into the table where we had stacked all the bowls for dessert and half of them drop and fall to the floor and break. I thought I was going to lose it. I went to sit down in a corner and gave myself a little pep talk. I could either, right there and then, have a full on breakdown and cry and lose my s**t or I could suck it up and just get on with things. So I did the latter. We hosted the dinner, and none of the guests knew of anything had gone wrong. They all had a great evening and left.

The next day we hosted the event again, and at this point I got the contact details of the maintenance guy. We sadly also needed to buy all the meats, dairy and anything that would have gone off in the fridge (as, yes, the fridge didn’t work after the power cut). I definitely came out under profit from these events, but the experience was immense and I learnt a great lesson.

Now we always have someone who takes care of maintenance, who has everyone’s contact details and more importantly we also have floor managers that can take some pressure off of me.

But the lesson was, always have a plan B and C in place and ready to use.
 

SD: How do you see the future for Edible Stories?

CM: We have some really exciting projects currently in the pipeline. I think for the future we are looking at doing some more regular events with certain companies and a second challenge for the future is always to make sure to keep things interesting.

 

 

…..and a recipe? At the press launch for Ron Zacapa 23 with Diageo we had a main course of braised short beef rib. Guests had to set the dish alight, thus enhancing the taste and smell of the wood barrels.

 

Edible Stories Recipe for Braised Short Beef Rib in Ron Zacapa Reserva

Ingredients:

1kg short beef rib
300 mls of Ron Zacapa Reserva
200 mls of water
700 mls of red wine
500 gms of carrots, sliced
500 gms of white onions, sliced
4 bay leaves, whole
1 tbs salt
1 ts cinnamon

Step one
Ask your butcher for a three inch cut short rib cut, also know as the Jacobs ladder.
Make up your Zacapa Reserva marinade, for 1 kilogram of meat – mix 300 milliliters of the rum with 200 milliliters of water, a table spoon of salt and tea spoon of cinnamon. Take your whole piece of beef and place it in a deep tray with the marinade, ensuring the fat side of the meat is face down in the marinade. Cover with cling film (to make air tight), then leave it in the fridge for 48 hours.

Step two
After the marinade has soaked into the meat, drain the left over marinade into a deep baking tray add 700 milliliters of red wine, four bay leaves, 500 grams of sliced carrots and 500 grams of sliced white onions. Then place the beef bone side up to ensure the meat is in your rich revamped marinade. Cover with foil (double layered) again ensuring it is air tight. Place it in the oven at 130 degrees and leave for 7 hours to braise slowly.

Step three
After the braising, carefully take the foil off and drain the juices passing your well cooked vegetables through a sieve giving you your rich Zacapa Reserva sauce. Cut your beef into the desired portions – which should be so succulent and tender the bones should be falling off the meat.

To accompany the dish, we suggest you prepare roasted root vegetables.

Added bonus: We added hay to the dish and gave our guests a candle. They were asked to set the hay on fire in order to create a memorable ritual. This will also add a nice smokey flavour to your dish.

 

50 shades of grey

Set it alight to give a smokey flavour and a memorable experience.

for the full article click here

SUPPERMELIER : uncork the secrets to pairing grape with grub

by Chloé Morris and Daniel Breger for gastroINSIDER, Photos: Cactus Kitchen

Bored by Bordeaux? Perplexed by Malbec? Always drawing a Sauvignon Blanc? Then we might have found just the thing for you. Down an unassuming Clapham backstreet, hidden behind a turquoise door in a converted church, you’ll find the home of the Michel Roux Jr Cookery School and the setting of the Suppermelier supper club we attended.

Yes ‘Suppermelier’ – an intimate wine and food pairing experience with Roux executive chef Toby Stuart and wine expert Raul Diaz. Together, they are on a mission to help people “uncork the secrets to pairing grape with grub”, so think of them as the culinary Holmes and Watson (minus the deerstalker).

On the night itself, we were warmly welcomed by the Cactus Kitchen team who sat us at a large communal dining table where we were introduced us to our fellow guests and hosts for the evening. But social niceties were almost immediately put to one side as all eyes lasered in on the hot, delicious, cheesy goodness that was placed in front of us.

Grilled cheese and sauerkraut toasties might not be the most obvious pairing with a glass of bubbly but man was it good! The crispness of the Champagne cut perfectly through the fattiness of the toasted cheese; so well in fact, that we ate them (and glugged our drinks) at a quite alarming rate. If anything best exemplifies the ethos of the evening it’s this combination – fuss free, easy to prepare at home (after the event we were sent all the recipes and tasting notes by email) and definitely not pretentious. So unpretentious in fact that (spoiler alert) we found out at the end of the night that all of the alcohol we’d been drinking had come from Lidl. Who knew.

To follow, we had three more starters – gigantic juicy grilled prawns, white bean dip with pita bread, and a Burrata fennel salad. It may all seem a bit simple, but remember that these dishes are all prepared by Toby Stuart – a man who’s worked at Aubergine, Clivedon, Richard Neats, Roux, and is now the executive chef for Chez Roux. So it’s rather a cut above your average prawn skewer or bean dip. The communal setting created a great interaction between the guests, as plates were passed around, fingers licked (our own), and conversation flowed.

The focus though was not on the food but on the wine that accompanied it. In fact the food had been chosen to compliment the wine, rather than the other way around. As we ate, Raul talked to us about the wine that was being served, urging us to taste it before we took our first bite and then notice how its flavour and complexity changed after we sampled the dish. He spoke in a way that completely demystified the wine-tasting experience – none of this “notes of oak, soupcon of asparagus” nonsense – and was completely accessible to everyone. We were encouraged to ask questions, disagree with him, even criticise the wine. Most of all, we were encouraged to drink!

Duly sated, we were taken upstairs, into the cookery school kitchen, to watch Toby prepare our main course. This was a nice touch, because it took away the fear of messing up as Toby showed us how ‘easy’ it was to prepare good, simple food (side note: the kitchens are stunning, and we highly recommend you booking in a cooking lesson). As we watched Toby do his magic, we drank; this time the star of the show, a bold, fruity Barolo.

We headed back down to the dining room, glass in hand, to enjoy our plate of perfectly cooked lamb chop, charred sweet potato, and walnut gremolata. Full to bursting, we finished off the meal with an indulgent chocolate pot topped with crushed amaretti biscuits alongside candied orange slices, all washed down with a ruby red glass of port.

The whole evening was extremely good fun, informal, and informative. Both Toby and Raul were eager to please and have a wealth of knowledge that we mercilessly mined. They were warm, welcoming hosts and very open to feedback (as this was their first night). By the end of the evening, most of you will be following @sstobes and @rauldiaz39 on Instagram or Twitter.

Admittedly, the price of Suppermelier does stretch the wallet a little, but if you fancy splashing out on something different then we would highly recommend it. After all, as the old adage goes – “wine: because no good story ever started with anyone eating a salad!”

ICE CREAM II YOU’VE NEVER HAD IT LIKE THIS

This weekend we went to Four Winters in Notting Hill and had a Liquid Nitrogen Knafeh Ice Cream, yummmm! It was so good and even had the right toppings. That inspired us to a put together a little edit of our top three ice cream projects from some of our favourite designers. Enjoy!

GIAPO ICE CREAM

We met Giapo at the International Food Design Conference. He had a pop up shop in town and hosted a workshop, which we of course attended.

A little more about Giapo :

If you’re like me and most of my customers, you’re an imaginative ice cream lover.  During these years running the kitchen at Giapo I saw that Ice Cream had the potential to be more expressive and  gastronomical than what it had been so far. In my mind ice cream had to carry a different narrative.  It goes without saying that ice cream is the most popular dessert food in the world and it did not sound right that ice cream had always been looking pretty much the same on cones, cups and sticks.

I focused my kitchen work on mashing up ideas from all the humanities including technology, art and science. I am currently doing scientific researches with AUT and Otago University. I run a blog where I write about my kitchen observations and I am the co-author of a few published peer reviewed papers.

Giapo Chirstchurch Hazelnut, Giapo Peach

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LICK ME I’M DELICIOUS 

We had the pleasure of sampling one of Charlie’s ice creams at the Experimental Food Society Showcase. The flavours are mouthwatering (for full list click links below, these are just some of our favourites): Salted Caramel Cookie, Dark Port & Stilton, Chocolate Popping Candy, Raspberry Mojito, Wasabi & Honey, Cherry Brandy Pie, and Dulce de Leche Praline Pecan. The great thing about Charlie is that there is no limit to his creativity! Check out his website to see what else this mad hatter has come up with.

A little more about Charlie:

Charlie grew up on an ice cream farm in South Wales and has a long history of inventing weird and wonderful machines that go bing and bosh and blip.  He set up Lick Me I’m Delicious in 2011 building the first Nitro Parlour in his living room, then he build the nitro buggy, then the edible mist orbs, then a corby trouser press toasty maker, floss whizzers, electric tea cups and all sorts of bits and pieces. He’s happiest when holding a screwdriver and a fork.  

Charlie has also worked on some TV shows, gives talks, makes soup in washing machines and likes to sleep under trees. 

NITRO PODS, PARLOUR, AND BUGGY  (source personal website)

He has invented machines for all sorts of things including ice cream. The links above are specifically for his ice cream creations.

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THE AROUSAL (source personal website)

Commissioned by one of our VIP clients, each ball of ice cream contains 25mgs of viagra and is flavoured with bubbly champagne.  We aren’t able to reveal the identity of the client, but they reported back that they were ‘very happy with the end result’.

The+Arousal_hres

GLOW IN THE DARK ICE CREAM (source personal website)

Working with a group of very clever scientists, we developed the World’s first glow in the dark ice cream made with synthesised jellyfish luminescence which cause the ice cream to glow as you lick it.  At £140 a scoop it is also one of the most expensive ice creams every produced.  Click to watch Charlie explain it all to a very confused ABC news anchor.

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EMILIE BALTZ’S LICKESTRA (source personal website)

We met Giapo at the International Food Design Conference, where she was a keynote speaker and also presented her project that she created for the Museum of Sex in New York for a local news channel. When we came across this project we had a massive smile on our face.

More about the project:

Lickestra is a musical licking performance at the intersection of food design and smart objects developed in collaboration with smart object designer Carla Dianaand composer Arone Dyer of Buke&Gase.

Playing with the experience from tongue to taste, the performance presents a series of conductive ice creams that trigger various baselines and tones when licked.

From improvisation to orchestration, eater becomes performer as the primitive act of licking reaches beyond flavor perception to become an instrument for play.

Lickestra lasts until all the ice cream is licked.

(you need sound to watch this video)

(Edible Stories created this edit, but all images and designer descriptions are from their personal websites)

VENUES II Hidden Gems that do that little bit extra

When we first started we were not accredited in many (or rather any) of the London’s venues, but we still had to wow our clients. One way to get around this issue was either to work within a venue that didn’t mind or to work with the team onsite. In the process we uncovered some great hidden gems that had character, a bit of magic, and most importantly already a story of their own to tell.

We’ve put together a little edit of some of these, and also added a couple that we hope to work in soon.

AFFORDABLE SPACE WITH EVERYTHING YOU NEED

ARCHES AT ST MARY CHURCH, PUTNEY: (allows non-accredited external catering)

Putney Bridge Approach, SW15 2JQ

We hosted two public events here (Alice in Wonderland, Romeo & Juliet) and a press launch for Diageo’s rum brand Ron Zacapa 23. 

BEFORE

arches

AFTER

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GRAND AND BREATHTAKING

SHOREDITCH TOWN HALL: (allows non-accredited external catering)

380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT

We hosted an Alice in Wonderland themed charity event here for The Museum of Architecture.

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(no event pictures available as this was a private client event)

TOTALLY UNIQUE IN THE HEART OF LONDON

HYDE PARK LOOKOUT: (allows non-accredited external catering)

Royal Parks Foundation, The Old Police House, Hyde Park, W2 2UH

We hosted the Palantir Summer Party within the garden by reproducing the office story. 

lookout-3

hyde11

(no event pictures available as this was a private client event)

ROOM HIRE WITHIN A WORKING SPACE 

PRIVATE DINING ROOM, SARTORIA: (resident chef Francesco Mazzei)

20 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 3PR

We hosted the launch event for House of Peroni within the private dining room by transforming it into an italian al fresco terrace. 

BEFORE

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AFTER

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ST LUKE’S KITCHEN, LIBRARY PRIVATE MEMBERS CLUB: (allows non-accredited external catering and the option of working with resident chef Daniel Petitta)

112 St. Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4BD

We hosted a series of pop ups within the restaurant : Phantom of the Opera, Matilda, Les Miserables, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, and James Bond. 

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OUT OF LONDON

GIN BARN, NEW FOREST: (allows non-accredited external catering)

Gins Barn, Gins Farm House, St. Leonards, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst. SO42 7XG

We hosted the launch of Rock & Roam by translating the much loved story Secret Garden.

Rock & Roam Launch Dinner (145 of 280)Rock & Roam Launch Dinner (176 of 280)

GROUNDS

Rock & Roam Launch Dinner (75 of 280)Rock & Roam Launch Dinner (59 of 280)

PLAS DINHAM, WALES: (allows non-accredited external catering or they have listed suppliers)

Plas Dinam, Llandinam, Powys SY17 5DQ

(no event pictures available as this was a private client event)

GROUNDS

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EVENT SPACES

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HOPEFULLY IN THE FUTURE

OVAL SPACE, BETHNAL GREEN:

29-32 The Oval, London E2 9DT

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TT LIQOUR:

17 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8AA

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RUINED CHAPEL:

Caroline Gardens, Peckham, SE15

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Hacking flavour perception II design, technology, & gastrophysics

On Monday we left London on the 7:10am on a Oxford Tube bus to Somerville College at Oxford University. The line up promised great things – and it definitely delivered. Because we gathered SO MUCH information, we thought it would be best to break down the content into various posts that will feature over the next couple of months. That way we can go into more juicy detail. Until then, we wanted to leave you with the information provided to us by Oxford University. Enjoy!

 

Event Description:

While enjoying a meal, our brain continuously combines information about what is detected by the tongue with what we smell, not to mention the expectations set by what we see, hear, and feel. Traditionally, researchers thought that the sensory cues that combine to deliver flavour all originated from the food and drink itself. Nowadays, though, chefs, culinary artists, experience designers, and researchers working in technology are increasingly starting to hack our experiences of flavour (hacking the food; hacking the context in which that food is presented; and hacking the senses of the person consuming it): Everything from sonically seasoning your food through to augmented and virtual reality dining experiences. This workshop brings together practitioners and researchers from a number of different fields in order to investigate how our understanding of multi sensory flavor perception (of flavour objects) is being challenged and extended. Hopefully, you will not only get to hear, but also to taste, some of the latest insights and innovations in this fast-moving area.

Schedule:

10:10 Prof. Charles Spence (University of Oxford)

Opening remarks: Hacking flavour perception

10:30 Prof. Katsunori Okajima (Yokohama National University, Japan)

Augmented Reality (AR) & Projection Mapping Food and Drink: Enhancing the Experience with Technology

11:15 Dr. Sebastian Ahnert (University of Cambridge)

The flavour network

13:00 Steve Keller (iV audio branding, Nashville, Tennessee)

Sonic Seasoning: Designing crossmodally congruent soundscapes that tickle your ears and your taste buds

13:30 Dr. Vaiva Kalnikaitė (Nu Food, Cambridge)

The shape of taste to come

13:55 Chef Jesse Dunford Wood (Parlor, London; http://parlourkensal.com)

Theatrical dining: Hacking the diner’s mind by playing with nostalgia and performance at the table

14:20 Demos 

Sarah Hyndman: Tasting typeface

Simon Spence: Bread – Can you taste the difference?

Vaiva Kalnikaitė & Tom Gayler: 3D food printing

Singh’s gin tasting

Kitchen Theory: Colourful jelly tasting

15:00 Prof. Francis McGlone (Liverpool John Moores University)

Brain’s go beyond physics: A notes & chords view of multisensory flavour perception

 

15:30 Prof. Charles Spence (University of Oxford)

Gastrophysics: Measuring the impact of design & technology on multisensory flavour experiences

16:00 Chef Jozef Youssef (Kitchen Theory, London; https://www.kitchen-theory.com)

Gastrophysics: Putting theory into practice– Does the science constrain or promote creativity in the kitchen?

 

Hacking Flavour Perception: Art, Design, Technology, & Gastrophysics

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Prof. Katsunori Okajima (Yokohama National University, Japan)

Food appearance and the environment are critical factors that affect the feeling of the deliciousness of the dishes. However, the effects of food appearance have been unclear because it is difficult to prepare the same foods with different appearances. Therefore, we developed an Augmented Reality (AR) system with a Head-Mounted Display (HMD) that can modify the texture and/or the color of food and drink in real time and keeping the food intact. We conducted a series of experiments designed to investigate how the visual texture and appearance of food and drink influences taste and flavor perceptions. The results demonstrated that people’s perception of food can be modulated by changing the color or the texture of the visual image. Moreover, we developed another Augmented-Reality (AR) system that can modify the appearance of the food and the dish by projecting an artificial image on the food and the dish in real-time. The image of a moving food on a dish was captured with a camera, and a digital projector projected a texture image on the actual food. Results of the subjective experiment showed that the sweetness is significantly modified by controlling just only saturation of the food color without changing the food itself, suggesting that the projective-AR system must be useful for controlling diet and for designing food appearance. Finally, I will introduce a novel modification method of food appearance by using image filters based on the human visual mechanism. This method allows us to control freshness, transparency and doneness etc. of the food naturally and arbitrarily.

[Acknowledgment: This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP15H05926]

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Dr. Sebastian Ahnert (University of Cambridge)

The cultural diversity of culinary practice, as illustrated by the variety of regional cuisines, raises the question of whether there are any general patterns that determine the ingredient combinations used in food today or principles that transcend individual tastes and recipes. We introduce a flavour network that captures the flavour compounds shared by culinary ingredients. Western cuisines show a tendency to use ingredient pairs that share many flavour compounds, supporting the so-called food-pairing hypothesis. By contrast, East Asian cuisines tend to avoid compound sharing ingredients. Given the increasing availability of information on food preparation, our data-driven investigation opens new avenues towards a systematic understanding of culinary practice. Leading on from this we discuss a variety of further datasets on food ingredients and flavour compounds, including chef-curated flavour pairings, aroma compound concentrations, olfactory detection thresholds, and olfactory receptor responses, and illustrate how these datasets can be combined using large-scale data analysis in order to provide a deeper understanding of the impact that shared aroma compounds can have on perceived ingredient compatibility.

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Steve Keller (iV audio branding, Nashville, Tennessee)

Over the past few years, research into crossmodal relationships (or correspondences) between sound and taste has opened the door to exciting new applications of sound in the culinary arts. From gastrophysics and Sensploration to sonic seasonings and flavour DJs, Steve Keller explores the theory and practice of eating with our ears.

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Dr. Vaiva Kalnikaitė (Nu Food, Cambridge)

We are amazing at building things out of solid materials, but we are not so comfortable with making things out of liquids. Yet we are surrounded by living things which can be more than 60% liquid. In this presentation, I’ll explore how to design and build robots that can help us manipulate liquid and use it to make shapes and add texture and flavour to accessorize our food and drink experiences. I will also explore the design of digital utensils to better suit the properties of liquids when served as part of dining.

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Chef Jesse Dunford Wood (Parlor, London; http://parlourkensal.com)

Jesse will talk about ‘The fun factor’ when entertaining at meal times, and the underrated value of performance, humor, surprise, and intrigue at the dinner table.

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Prof. Francis McGlone (Liverpool John Moores University)

In the early 1900’s a psychologist by the name of I. M. Bentley carried out a series of ‘touch blend’ experiments in which he demonstrated that brains go beyond physics when it comes to the skin senses. The recognition that perception is often an illusion will be developed further when it comes to oral sensory processing where it will be shown that understanding the full physical and chemical properties of a sensory stimulus can often tell you nothing about how such matter will be dealt with by the brain i.e. how it will ‘taste’. Perhaps why cooking is an art rather than a science …….until now…..

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Prof. Charles Spence (University of Oxford)

PART ONE: Back in 2011, philosopher Peter Ludlow suggested that modernist cuisine could be seen as a form of ‘food hacking’. Of course, long before molecular gastronomy / modernist cuisine, the Italian Futurists were suggesting a number of intriguing ways in which to play with multisensory dining experiences. This workshop will explore some of the ways in which designers and those working with the latest in technology are increasingly starting to hack our food and drink experiences. While it may not yet be possible to turn water into wine (by hacking the flavour experience), culinary artists, chefs, designers, technologists, and scientists (gastrophysicists) are becoming ever-more successful in their attempts at modifying our food experiences – be it to deliver more stimulating, more memorable, more sustainable, and/or healthier food and beverage experiences. In this workshop, we are lucky to have been able to bring together a number of those working at the forefront of technological development, design, and culinary artistry to share their enthusiasm, experiences, and learnings in this area.

PART TWO: In this talk, I will review a number of the most exciting examples of food hacking that have not been discussed previously during the day. I will also highlight how the gastrophysics approach, combining gastronomy and psychophysics, is increasingly helping chefs and other culinary experience designers to make better evidence-based decisions around the optimal design of food and beverage experiences.

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Chef Jozef Youssef (Kitchen Theory, London; https://www.kitchen-theory.com)

Kitchen Theory has dedicated its efforts towards using the emerging science of gastrophysics as the main focus of our research and inspiration behind our multisensory dining experiences. This talk will highlight a number of dishes which have been developed based on scientific research and executed by collaborating with various partners and engaging the use of new technologies to create immersive, memorable, and delicious multisensory tasting journeys for our guests at The Gastrophysics Chef’s Table in London. I will share the way in which we use gastrophysics to help nudge our guests toward an appreciation of more sustainable sources of food.

All content was provided by Oxford University

CAKE II What you won’t find by typing ‘cake’ into google

We’ve put a little edit together of some of the best and most original cakes and the designers behind them. This should give you inspiration for birthdays, wedding, and your dinner parties.

SUGAR FLOWER POWER : Rosalind Miller Cakes 

Rosalind Miller Cakes was founded when Rosalind, a lecturer in Design at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design applied her artistic skills to cake design. Rosalind’s cakes have earned a reputation for not only being utterly unique, but also continually at the forefront of wedding trends, and her unparalleled wedding cake designs have won her the title of ‘Best Wedding Cake Designer’ at The Wedding Industry Awards in 2012 and 2013 (for which she is now a judge in the same category).

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@rosalindmillercakes: Ivory Cascade, Rose Ombre (11 tier wedding cake, 6 tiers with 5 separators for extra height)

ALL IN THE TOPPINGS : Lily Vanilli 

Lily Jones (aka) Vanilli is a baker and bespoke cake designer based in East London.

She is the author of two recipe books and co-founder of the YBF Awards. She has a bakery on London’s Columbia Road and consults for bakeries and brands around the world.

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@lily_vanilli_cake: Bespoke Cake Design

WHAT A SPREAD : The Curious Confectioner 

With an emphasis on research and education, the work of David Bradley aka The Curious Confectioner is known for its playful approach to the curious and exploratory. Inhabiting the role of artist, designer, gastronome and educator, The Curious Confectioner produces considered works born from a convergence of interests under multiple hats.

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Candyland (250cm x 120cm x 90 cm), The Cornucopian Garden (100cm x 100cm x 140cm)

SCULPTURAL : Michelle Sugar Art 

Michelle Wibowo is the founder of Michelle Sugar Art Ltd, Michelle is a world-renowned sugar artist and cake sculptor with incredible attention to details and realism.

 

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@michellesugarart: Realistic Baby Cake : english fruit cake, marzipan, sugar paste

ANOTHER DIMENSION : Connie Viney 

Connie Viney is known for her outlandish and larger than life sculptures and installations made from cake and icing.

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@connieviney: 8ft Walk in Wedding Cake

JELLY ALTERNATIVE : Bompas & Parr  

Bompas & Parr is globally recognised as the leading expert in multi-sensory experience design.

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@bompasandparr : Jelly with Bompas & Parr, Neon Jelly Chamber

(Edible Stories created this edit, but all images and designer descriptions are from their personal websites)

Sechuan Buttons II Taste Tingling Foreplay

What is a Sechuan Button or Acmella Oleracea: (source Wikipedia)

It is a species of flowering herb in the family Asteraceae. The flower bud has a grassy taste followed by a strong tingling or numbing sensation and often excessive salivation, with a cooling sensation in the throat.

How we applied this ingredient into an event, and a little more about that event:

We have hosted a couple 50 Shades of Grey events for private and corporate clients and so wanted to create something that was playful, tasteful but still had a little bit of a naughty side. So instead we created a menu and dining experience which would explore the senses and how we could manipulate them to create certain sensations.

 

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THE MENU

Safe word: Scallop carpaccio marinated in lemon and soya, topped with sechuan buds, lime espuma & black sesame crunch

SOUND (sound) : The sensation produced by vibrations. Guests will be blindfolded and served their first course. An audio instructions will be given, the voice is seductive but firm, allowing guests to become submissive.

Lick me dry: pallet cleanser (guests will have their hands tied and be instructed to lick the liquid off the plate)

TASTE (test) : The impression of food on the tongue. The first course will evoke a journey of the senses. Allowing your lips, tongue, teeth, and throat to taste each texture and flavour individually.

The Christian Grey: Fillet of beef topped with truffle shards, accompanied with a nori powdered cauliflower puree

SIGHT (sahyt) : The perception of what lies in front of us. Blindfolds will be removed, enabling guests to discover interactive elements on the table : touch me, taste me, drink me, use me, open me.

Pleasure and pain: Frozen grapes, disguised chili strawberry, amaretto spiked cream, contrasting ice cubes, poached chocolate centered pear served with a paintbrush and instruction to take control.

 

Additional senses that we played with during the evening:

SMELL (smel) : To perception of a scent. Certain aromas will be diffused in the room throughout the evening in order to enhance the dining experience.

TOUCH (tuhch) : To be in contact with. Throughout the evening guests will be blindfolded, silk rope cuffed, and caressed. They will have the opportunity to interact with each other and their surroundings. And who knows, maybe even take control.

POP UP REVIEW II We tried Syria’s favourite dishes with a refugee in London

by Chloé Morris and Daniel Breger for gastroINSIDER

It was a night of contrasts; of joy and pain, war and love, indulgence and sacrifice, new lives and the ones left behind. And baklava. It was undisputedly a night of baklava.

In a bare-bricked loft somewhere off the backstreets of Bethnal Green, we gorged ourselves on overflowing plates of incredible Middle-Eastern food.  At the centre of it all, Imad Alanab – a Syrian chef who was forced to flee his homeland and yet manages to wear an eternal smile; far from the country he loves but somehow transported back there, hunched over a stove, enveloped in a haze of familiar smoke and smells.  This is Imad’s Kitchen, this is – for that moment at least – home.

We ate family style, squeezed together, knees touching, elbows knocking, but nobody minded; it only made it easier to reach across for dishes that would otherwise have been out of our grasp. We started with a festival of meze dishes – the obligatoryhumous, falafel and pita bread; tabouleh; a smoky aubergine moutabal; and a crisp fattoush salad (a mixture of tomatoes, onion and cucumber punctuated with pomegranate pearls and thin shards of fried bread). The real star here though was the stuffed vine leaves – soaked and spiced grape leaves wrapped around balls of rice. They were soft, sticky, bittersweet and delicious.

Before we began the meal Imad welcomed us, urging us to “eat, eat, eat and enjoy!” We clamoured to hear more of his story – how had he arrived at this place? What did he feel? What had he seen? How could we help? – however, Imad clearly wanted to keep this, his opening night, an occasion of happiness and celebration. But as with so many refugees – Syrian and others the world over – there is no escaping the terrible sadness of their stories. Thankfully, there is often also hope. In Imad’s case, the restaurants and juice bars he owned in Damascus were destroyed in the country’s civil war. He fled and, after a journey that took him through Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and France, arrived in London in October 2015, eventually bringing over his young family, including three daughters aged six, 10 and 13. He sought refugee status and became an advisor to Unicef campaign #CookForSyria and now hopes that this pop-up (supported by NextGen, AppearHere, Hampstead Kitchen, Cook For Syria, Kasimira Party Organisers) will allow him to rebuild his business in the UK

Judging by the empty plates, it won’t take him long to achieve that goal. We wolfed down the starters and licked our lips as platefuls of kebab hindi (Syrian meatball stew), kabsa (gently spiced chicken with cardoman, rice, and crispy onions) andtabakh roho (vegetable and tamarind stew) wafted under our noses, onto the table, and into our bellies.

We were full to bursting. Sated, satisfied and blissfully happy. Not a morsel more could pass our lips. And then the baklava arrived. From the outside, the syrup-soaked parcels looked like all the other baklava we had seen before. Sugary and inviting sure, but nothing to suggest that eating them would be a transcendent experience; with pastry that melted on the tongue, leaving nothing but rosewater flecked upon our lips. Put simply, they were happiness manifested as baked goods. Go, eat them. Now. Your mouth will thank you. And so will Imad.

(Photos: Cook for Syria)

VOGUE II Wendy Yu’s Guide to Hosting a Chic Chinese New Year Dinner

Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Yu

Roughly a sixth of the world will celebrate Chinese New Year this Saturday—including Chinese philanthropist and front row favorite Wendy Yu. So, how is she making her celebration stand out? “I’ve made mood boards!” says the 26-year-old from the couture shows in Paris. Yu will be heading straight from Paris to London to host an intimate dinner for 15 friends, including Mary Katrantzou and Bottletop’s Cameron Saul. “I usually spend Chinese New Year with family, however I will be transforming my Knightsbridge apartment for the occasion and having my guests celebrate with me the Chinese way!”

Here, a look at Yu’s plans—perhaps they’ll inspire a chic Chinese New Year celebration of your own.

The Mood
Red and gold meets 1930s Shanghai glamour.

The Menu
Authentic Chinese hot pot—“It represents the essence of Chinese food whilst also reflecting what I also love about London—variety, creativity, and adventure.” For the hot pot, Yu prepares a variety of dishes (seafood, meat, and vegetables), which are presented raw, and then each person cooks their own and adds it to their base soup together with condiments and sauces. “It should be especially delicious and interactive in some way, allowing guests to get to know each other and share a memorable experience.” Traditional pudding and rice cakes to follow.

The Dress Code
A touch of red. It allows guests to make a special effort to dress up but it’s also attainable—plus, setting a special theme makes the party stand out. For her part, Yu will be wearing a red Fendi dress, a lantern clutch from Charlotte Olympia, and a pair red heels from Dior.

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The Table Top
“We will have miniature orange trees dotted to symbolize prosperity and good luck,” says Yu. It’s a fantastical (and high-fashion nod) to the indoor trees at the spectacular Dior Couture show, which inspired Yu to make her event especially whimsical.

The linen will be red, with scattered gold coins and with gold-rimmed china by Wedgwood. “And many lanterns, and rooster references as we are celebrating the Year of the Rooster.”

The Traditions
“Lucky money” envelopes for each guest, and Yu suggests a Chinese card game called Dou di zhu (fight the landlord).

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The Seating Plan
In the spirit of the New Year’s positive horizons, a plan is essential—“it is really important to ensure people come away having made new friends and aren’t bored by the conversation.”

The Parting Thought
Let the Fire Rooster inspire you to share your New Year’s wish. “The Rooster means prosperity, strength, and good luck, which I think is relevant to the year ahead. I’d love to travel to Antarctica to see penguins, run a marathon!”

*****

See the full article here

On Tuesday 31st of January Edible Stories will be hosting a very special Chinese New Year for Wendy Yu and her A-List guests.

RECIPE II Edible Stories Braised Short Beef Rib in Ron Zacapa Reserva

From the whole team at Edible Stories, thank you for indulging in our many stories to date. Since we started creating events in 2012, we have grown, travelled and hopefully conquered the appetites of many, including yours!

Our events this year range from a Tuscan feast set under a flowering canopy complete with chirping crickets to a futuristic dinner with robot bar staff, a Haitian beach club charity event to a living comic book showcasing the works of Sarnath Banerjee, an underwater gin tasting to a magical secret garden set in the woodlands of the New Forests. (to name only a few)

We love to work with both corporate and private client events that tell a story. If we haven’t already, we hope to bring yours to the plate in the 2017. May it be scrumptious!

Have a delicious Christmas and a mouth-watering New Year.

In anticipation of all the end of year festivities, we have gifted you with one of our favourite winter recipes. 

Edible Stories Braised Short Beef Rib in Ron Zacapa Reserva

Ingredients:

1kg short beef rib
300 mls of Ron Zacapa Reserva
200 mls of water
700 mls of red wine
500 gms of carrots, sliced
500 gms of white onions, sliced
4 bay leaves, whole
1 tbs salt
1 ts cinnamon

Step one
Ask your butcher for a three inch cut short rib cut, also know as the Jacobs ladder.
Make up your Zacapa Reserva marinade, for 1 kilogram of meat – mix 300 milliliters of the rum with 200 milliliters of water, a table spoon of salt and tea spoon of cinnamon. Take your whole piece of beef and place it in a deep tray with the marinade, ensuring the fat side of the meat is face down in the marinade. Cover with cling film (to make air tight), then leave it in the fridge for 48 hours.

Step two
After the marinade has soaked into the meat, drain the left over marinade into a deep baking tray add 700 milliliters of red wine, four bay leaves, 500 grams of sliced carrots and 500 grams of sliced white onions. Then place the beef bone side up to ensure the meat is in your rich revamped marinade. Cover with foil (double layered) again ensuring it is air tight. Place it in the oven at 130 degrees and leave for 7 hours to braise slowly.

Step three
After the braising, carefully take the foil off and drain the juices passing your well cooked vegetables through a sieve giving you your rich Zacapa Reserva sauce. Cut your beef into the desired portions – which should be so succulent and tender the bones should be falling off the meat.

To accompany the dish, we suggest you prepare roasted root vegetables.

Added bonus: We added hay to the dish and gave our guests a candle. They were asked to light the hay on fire in order to create a memorable ritual. This will also add a nice smokey flavour to your dish.

Background: We created this recipe for the Ron Zacapa 23 launch back in 2014. It was such a delicious and memorable dish, that this year we decided it was time to share it with all of you.

Now go enjoy these wonderfully rich flavours!