Service Instructor Sylvie Fornage writes about an unusual eating experience: dining in the dark. Sounds a bit gimmicky, right? Actually, there is a good reason behind it…
As exciting and impossible as it sounds, here at Le Tacot Restaurant we created a memorable and an unforgettable event on 22nd of May 2015 and on 13th November 2015: Dining in the Dark!
The idea of creating such an interesting event for the students of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management came from the Chef Samuel Dujoncquoy and from the Service instructor Sylvie Fornage who also insisted on raising funds for the Federation Suisse des Aveugles et Malvoyants (Federal Association of Switzerand for the Blind).
Hence the idea behind Dining in the Dark event was to give the guests a completely blind gastronomical experience where they would be able to enjoy the dinner using other senses such as smell, taste and feel.
During the dinner the restaurant was covered with black curtains to create a dark room. The guests were blind folded to ensure that their vision was completely obscured. To put it simply, the guests had to feel how a visually impaired person would feel when eating at a restaurant.
On the big day, we started with the special setup of tables, including raised lines to find cutlery and glasses and setting up the dark room with blinds. Later the students working on the regular service rotation that day were briefed about welcoming visually impaired guests in a dining restaurant, as we wanted students to really understand the depth and importance of this lesson. So, they were asked to blind fold themselves and experience the feelings of a visually impaired person. They were also taught to explain clearly to the guests what was on the table and how to access it.
That’s enough about the preparation of the event.
As the guests curiously arrived for the dinner, they were welcomed with an aperitif followed by a warm speech regarding the reason behind the event and the guidelines they had to follow. The guidelines were to not the leave the table once they were seated and were not allowed to step outside until the dinner was over. Later the guests were escorted blind folded to their respective tables, where they had to follow the waiter/waitress with the right hand on the shoulder of the person in front. Once they had all been seated, the waiter/waitress explained to them about the table and its contents.
The most interesting part of the evening started when the guests were served with food dishes and wines – it was exciting to see the guests trying to explore their plates, in some cases the plate of others to find out what had been served. As the four-course dinner came to an end, the guests were asked to remove the blind folds and were given a questionnaire to fill in. They had to guess what food they had and what wine they had tasted; later the person who guessed right was presented with a bottle of champagne.
As all good things have to come to an end, so the dinner concluded. The money raised from the event was presented to a representative of the association who was also present during the dinner and the guests were presented with menu of the evening along with their photo as a souvenir.
The most significant part of this effort to have such an event was to teach students how to host a visually impaired guest in the dining room, how to make guests feel how a visually impaired guest would feel when they’re in a restaurant, and last but not least, a great way to help the Federal Association of Switzerand for the Blind.