Food Loves Tech "In the Mouth" Dinner by Audi
Entering the basement of the Diamond Horseshow, NY sets the tone perfectly for ‘In the Mouth’; the décor a blend of shabby chic ostentation. At one end of the room, a table with artefacts from Chef Nuno’s life, profiling his influences, inspirations and ultimately the loss of his sense of taste, which apparently occurred due to a pea shoot growing in his brain. And thus was the positioning for the three-course meal that would ensue.
Each course was served on a 30-foot long table, with utensils placed on the table and no crockery available. Chefs would enter with trolleys of food and over dramatically dress the table. The five cameramen capturing this moment however, ultimately took away from the experience as a guest. Retrospectively, each course felt like a construction to control behaviour, which is why I have named them as follows; Greed, Waste, and Appearance.
Trolleys piled with hunks of steak, bundles of asparagus, mounds of mozzarella were wheeled into the room. The over enthusiastic dressing of the table began and guests were encouraged to commence dining. A few stepped up to the table and within a second the table was surrounded, guests jostling for position. I found myself in this melee. Being British I longed for a queue, someone to play mother, I stepped back. Chef Nuno had created a discourse in which our primal instincts came to the fore. Not before long the food was finished, chefs cleared the debris and guests were asked to collectively hoist the tablecloth above their heads. Members of the team wiped down the table and then encouraged guests to pass down the tablecloth. As they did, it became apparent the huge tablecloth was on a reel; a clean ‘plate’ was laid on the table.
The same act followed with chefs dressing the table with wonders from the sea; ceviche scallops, cod roe balls and fish pâté. Due to the nature of the food, guests could freely wander up to the table and enjoy the delicacies, without the battering of elbows. With the same quantity of food being prepared and guests tastes being less favourable of seafood, mounds of food were left. Was this comment of the effort of procurement and the issue of waste? The organisers however, were keen to stress everything would be recycled.
The final table was dressed after a performance of embroidery, which reminded the chef of this Portuguese tradition. The table was now lathered with hamburgers, donuts, sorbet and life’s little treats. The crowd scrummed around the table with our most primeval instincts back on centre stage. After a few G&Ts and a riveting conversation with a fellow gen y’er about stifling rents in the worlds largest cities, I can only really recollect a donut, which didn’t embody the sweet sanctuary but instead something rather hard to place. Was this Chef Nuno’s last laugh at his diners’ expense?
The event was highly thought provoking. To me, it was more a commentary questioning human nature than a gastronomic experience. The food itself was ordinary, with more attention paid to the performance. Whilst intrigued by the concept, I have niggling thoughts about how genuine this story is, and makes me wonder should I have exited through the gift shop...