Dining supine: Book a bed, Chef Thor’s Wicked Kitchen is hitting town
BEIRUT: Sure we’ve all reserved a table for a night out, but have you ever reserved a mattress?
Chef Thor’s Wicked Kitchen, held monthly at DRM in Hamra, combines food, art, music and live performance to tickle all of our senses in a creative nightlife experiment where mattresses replace table settings and food is prepared live onstage.
The original founder of Amsterdam’s world-famous Supperclub in the 1990s, Chef Thor (aka Thorwald Voss) along with his soon-to-be wife and partner in wickedness, Anne Steenkamp, sat down with The Daily Star to talk about their mission to “reactivate” our senses.
Chef Thor and Steenkamp created the Wicked Kitchen to combat what they see as a “flattening” of nightlife and society where every venue and meal fits the same mold. They wanted to provide something unique, combining high quality food with an interactive environment where all the senses are stimulated. The only things flat about the Wicked Kitchen are the mattresses.
“You come in, you lay down – we have huge mattresses with huge pillows. There’s space to dance. The cooks are preparing food on the stage in front of you. The DJ is on stage. You are being confronted with everything that we’re doing and instead of having flat food with flat music, we give it a twist,” says Steenkamp of the concept that she helped to produce.
The food is the charge of Chef Thor – a gastronomical voyager who brought his “world kitchen” to Beirut six months ago.
“If you bake an egg with love or without love, you taste the difference,” he simply explains, highlighting his convictions about cooking and creating.
The couple lives in the Chouf mountains where Chef Thor discovers new ingredients from village traditions for his menus.
“We’re using a lot of products that grow in the mountains. The old women [in the villages] show us what you can eat, what you can’t eat, all different kinds of herbs and greens,” he says. “You can nearly eat everything, so that inspires me a lot.”
Using local ingredients and greens are central to another mission of the Wicked Kitchen: to teach people how healthy food can be delicious.
“The core message for the food of the Wicked Kitchen is healthy, fair food – honest food,” says Steenkamp.
“It’s haute cuisine healthy,” Chef Thor chimes in.
The chef develops a new menu for each event. Thursday is the third edition of the Wicked Kitchen and Chef Thor begins his cooking days ahead to allow time to layer flavors in his dishes.
To start, the Wicked Kitchen always serves Chef Thor’s signature “Smallbites,” a concept he developed in Holland and sells around the world. Smallbites are savory, crispy balls that come in five ethnically inspired varieties – Italian, Thai, Japanese, Arabic and Pakistani. All are vegetarian.
This week, Chef Thor’s six-course menu includes a turnip, seaweed and poached egg salad, an entrée of salmon tartar under a bed of local greens and herbs, a stewed beef dish incorporating the chef’s signature “Jus du veggie,” a garlic, honey and basil brûlée with a ginger crumble and the “wicked treat” of meringue ice cream with chocolate potato chips.
Previously in the Wicked Kitchen, Chef Thor has dished up curries of the world as well as edible flower arrangements and gardens with carrots and spring onions “growing” in soil that you can eat.
“I love to cook and I love to put people into a different way of thinking about food,” he says of his creations.
Getting people to think differently about food in the Wicked Kitchen incorporates more than unusual presentations and flavors. The Wicked Kitchen experience changes the diner’s frame of mind, Steenkamp adds.
“We’re creating a trip. I call it brain grooving because all of the senses are being activated. You can go anyway you want – you can sit, lie down, dance, nap, eat, laugh, cry, drink, stand up and eat, whatever,” she says.
There’s a sweet spot for the event, the couple believes, when the flavors, the chefs on stage cooking and the music – which can range from disco to punk, rock, break beats or house – sync up and groove together.
“[The DJ] can see what’s happening and react to what’s happening, what’s being served. Everything is linked. When they get the right food and the music goes at the right moment and everything works, you see people start reacting,” Steenkamp explains as she gestures wildly to show the energy that builds in that moment.
The six-course meal and open bar cost $80 per person. Chef Thor also hosts private dinners for 12 people maximum in his home kitchen.
The next step, he believes, is to take the wickedness on the road.
“[Beirut] is the kickoff for the Wicked Kitchen on tour. The whole plan is to have a traveling restaurant going all over the world ... the Caravan of Love.”
Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Culture/Lifestyle/2012/Feb-29/164986-dining-...
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)