NUTOPIA – AN ALTERNATIVE DINING CONCEPT
Nutopia is an educational, social and theatrical culinary experience – an independent & different culinary concept, that creates dinners beyond a simple menu. Influenced by a specific theme every time, Chef Stephan Zoisl will creatively showcase his interpretation of the theme through his food in the most unique dining venue. The food will focus on seasonal produce, unusual presentation and modern cooking techniques to boost an unforgettable dining experience that will not be found anywhere else. Each dinner series promises to bring its diners on a sensory journey to a different world. The third pop up dinner was held between 22.November till 2.December 2013 – themed “A tribute to Roald Dahl” The menu is based on 12 courses with welcoming canapés, an art installation, interaction between the diners & ends in a multi-sensorial dining concept. Music and visuals will introduce different stories, following the British novelist, story writer, poet and screenwriter – to work on an interactive dinner concept that is inspired by James and giant peach, Fantastic Mr Fox, The big friendly giant, and many more. (This is a non Roald Dahl estate production)
The dinner started by discovering our lick-able wallpaper, having a quick chat with Roald Dahl (our friendly actor Paul – who actually looked like the original – just a few years younger) & some small first encounters of food (canapes) that have been served throughout the cocktail (savoury cupcakes, salmon cones, edible stones & some serious wonky trippy lollipops). Once our guests have been seated – Chef Stephan Zoisl (myself) has given his opening speech to give the diners a short introduction on what will happen that night. Menus don’t exist @ Nutopia – all dishes will be introduced by the chef himself. Visuals and Music change course by course and gimmicks like dry ice, liquid nitrogen, helium balloons, a magic key, coffee siphons & an actor are used to give the diners are more unique experience.
As Roald Dahl himself was a huge fan of caviar – we started the dinner of course with a small palate teaser…. Yuzu caviar. Together with a small dehydrated towel to give our diners some clean fresh hands to start with.
http://www.purenapkin.com/ (check out the napkins)
First course / first story: The first dish was a tribute to Roald Dahl himself, the food – he liked the most “Caviar”. Served was a dish introducing 3 types of caviar, the original caviar taken from sturgeon – sevruga caviar, the men made caviar from olive oil & lastly caviar d’escargot – snail caviar. The caviar was served on a sashimi of hokkaido scallops, pickled cucumber, dill, oyster leaves, 3 types of caviar, powdered olive oil & a vinaigrette of parsley and dill. Caviar d’escargots
Once the first plate was served, I handed over to the man of the hour “Roald Dahl” (Actor Paul Lucas to shine). He was talking about his personal childhood, his most successful stories in his life & …. his father….
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
Before RD was ending his performance at night – he handed “the magic key” to the Nutopia team. That particular “magic key” was then hidden and will only appear once again throughout the dinner – the lucky finder received a present.
Moving forward to second course & second story: “The Enormous Crocodile” aka “Croc au vin” served local heritage food, Singapore still having crocodile farms, we prepared a crocodile rillet – served in the tin to have a kiddish play on the story. Served on two 4 meter long wood crocodiles – served with sourdough bread. the crocodile rillet & the long wooden crocodile
Story 3 – and dish have been related to “The Witches”. Seeing our diners as our witches of the night – we gave them their own potion to create. Everyone got his own stone bowl with whimsical ingredients like: chicken geezers, rotten rat pebbles, goblin toes, dragon tongues, etc etc – served on giant finger nails (as described on the card below). The actual dish was a take on mushroom bruschetta – everything should be mixed together and eaten on prawns crackers afterwards. Using an dry ice installation to set the table under a floating witching mood. Witchcraft to be full on!
Moving forward to dish & story number 4 “Matilda”….. Matilda was a pretty young & gifted girl, that always had naughty things in mind… served was Norwegian salmon (cured for 24hours & sous vide by 45 degrees Celsius – giving the fish its butter like consistency) the fish was covered in a blanket of milk (pliable milk film to represent Matilda’s blanket she used to fall asleep with, to be comforted) – served with smoked pepper gel, edamame, cornabria & apple blossoms, nasturtium leaves
After our intermezzo with Matilda it was time to setup some coffee siphons to move on to “George’s marvelous medicine” Creating G.M.M. – we used a coffee siphon, added dried scallops, wolfberries, kombu seaweed, mirin and some katsuobushi to make a clear dashi & served it with a light steamed cod fish with mini zucchini scales. Coffee siphon to make dashi
“Fantastic Mr Fox” to come….the chicken hunt as related to the original story, we served chicken breast with fennel, fermented black garlic and chicken jus. The plating was related to the story – by making 96 dots of chicken just to represent the holes the foxes were digging, the black garlic to represent stones, carrot & cabbage the the tree where Mr.Fox was living at.
Main course to come “The BFG – the big friendly giant” 48h braised beef cheeks, octopus, potato, trumpet mushroom, snozzcumber the story related back to the good and evil giants of RD’s story…. serving the plates on puffed up pillows to send our diners into a dream world. Serving the beef with trumpet mushrooms (to relate to the trumpets of the story, where the giants blew bad or good dreams into kids ears & the snozzcumber as the ultimate punishment for all those bad giants. Our dinning hall…….middle at the main course… eating off the pillow cases…
After main course was time to have a short palate cleanser. A tribute to all those illustrators that give us those lovely characters on paper. Here we go: the palate / palette cleanser (small word play here)…. using a glass rim plate to have different types of “sourness” on there (buttermilk, lemon, lime, raspberry, orange) – served with liquid cassis sorbet in the center. The sorbet was lastly frozen with liquid nitrogen and served to our diners with a frozen steam cloud….. some to go…..
Looking into course number 9 – it was time for a time out…. Handing over some picnic baskets with helium balloons. Ready to serve picnic basket This course was not related to any of RD’s stories – this course was a tribute to life & family. Take a TIME OUT! life isn’t all about work… enjoy the little things in life. Jungle beer, Camembert cheese, pretzels, grapes, homemade chutney – to discover. This was when one of our diners then discovered the “MAGIC KEY” introduced 2 hours ago by our actor Paul Lucas (aka Roald Dahl of the night). The lucky finder could then use the key to open RD’s inheritance box….. It will stay a secret what was in there! Nutopia collaborated with Jungle Beer (a Singapore produced beer. Check it out http://www.junglebeer.com/)
Moving on to the first dessert of the night “James and the giant Peach” …. a fruity discovery. Seasonal fresh peaches, infused with vanilla – cold confit. Served with different textures of peach… espuma, freeze dried crisps, nitro drops – served with a sugar infused crosne (chinese artichoke) to represent the little worm that started the whole story…. the giant peach & it’s worm-ling……… Crosnes (Chinese artichoke)
Course 11, Story 11 – a short story about “THE TWITS” One of my person favourite stories as an adult (story is certainly sarcastic). The twits was represented by 2 dishes (1. Whisky gums / 2. Coconut espuma with passion fruit caviar)
“Once the world stands upside down – then we gonna eat whisky gums & having breakfast at the end of the day…”
And as “once upon a time” always starts a story … there will be always an end….here we go, last dish – last story … Story number 12 “Charlie and the chocolate factory” the last story needed to be introduced into 3 parts: Part 1 – the liquid options served for the dinner 1. Chocolate water (credited to Chef Ryan @ Tippling club – http://www.tipplingclub.com) 2. A chocolate tea (credited to Gryphon tea Singapore – who have been very supportive to create such a delicate fragrant for the Nutopia dinner) & 3. a chocolate wine Part 2: The plate – of course only chocolate – in relation to the 7 deadly sins of story. the 7 deadly sins of chocolate – including a QR code to bring our diners safely back to reality… Part 3: the chocolate river that allows our dinners to enter the house of Willy Wonka. The chocolate dome will melt ones the hot chocolate river hits the roof….. below the dome was a vanilla ice cream with fresh blueberries.
Surely there was always enough to drink for those who like to drink alcohol – Austrian Wines and Austrian Gin – and whisky towards the end…. and for those that didn’t drink those – we had a non alcoholic pairing….
Before our diners left us – there was one last surprise – my personal childhood memory “Yellow Snow”
Thank you for being a part of Nutopia, a pop-up restaurant. Here is a little gift from my own childhood –”Yellow Snow”. I hope to have inspired you to relive some of your childhood as you leave the Roald Dahl dinner. Sadly, we have to go back to reality as responsible adults confine to the imagination of our society. In the imaginary world of a kid, yellow snow is incredibly interesting but, as our parents always warn us….”never eat yellow snow!” If you haven’t seen yellow snow, you are in luck! And if you haven’t tasted yellow snow, no pee-ty, you are even luckier! I assure you my little gift of “yellow snow” is safe. It is made from white chocolate and Maltodextrin. Simply remove the “snowy” powder from the bag and place it on a plate. Next, with your imagination, squeeze the tube of yellow liquid, made from Mango, onto the plate of “snow” as all little boys would….…..
Bon appétit! Stephan Zoisl www.nutopia.asiaAnd then, is only one more thing to do…. enjoy the night…. close the doors & wait till we open once again for Nutopia. Thanks for all the support. See you in 2014. Here is the link for a video of 1 whole day operation 10am-1am – 15hours, cut into 3minutes 19seconds.