Experimental gastronomy: Breaking all the dinner party rules
This story is part of "Masters of Experience," a series exploring the world's most original experiences, as told by the visionaries who crafted them.
What happens when artists collaborate with chefs? When they rethink the tools with which we feed ourselves? Martin Kullik and his partner Jouw Wijnsma, founders of the creative collective Steinbeisser, have been exploring these questions since 2012, when they introduced their most unusual dinner party concept: Experimental Gastronomy.
Every few months an evolving clan of international collaborators come together to create one-off dining experiences. Acclaimed chefs are asked to produce a tasting menu that is completely vegan, organic, bio-dynamic and locally sourced, which is then served on a dizzying array of unique -- and often challenging -- cutlery and tableware created by artists and designers.
"We wanted to create an environment in which guests could experience food again in a very different way, in a much more conscious way," Kullik explained at their most recent event at the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam.
Over the course of the dinner guests attempt to make sense of the unfamiliar objects in front of them: too-long spoons, glass vessels that demand you stick your tongue in them, tools that look more like jewelery. Many of the pieces cost thousands of dollars and are more likely to be found in an art gallery.
"All the cutlery is different, all the plates are different, each person is having an individual experience," Kullik said.
Kullik and Wijnsma hope that, by disrupting the dining process on both the individual and communal level, they can encourage diners to be more conscious in every sense. Connections are made, conversations are had, and the longer it takes you to eat your food, the more you appreciate it.
Suzanne Oxenaar, the founder of the Lloyd Hotel and one of Steinbeisser's key collaborators, described the ideal outcome of the events simply: "If you can be open in something so normal as a dinner, you can be open to more things."
Watch the video above to find out more about the Experimental Gastronomy project.