- Title: 'Like tasting for the first time'- VR eating debuts in NY
- Date: 20th December 2019
- Summary: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 18, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO OF AEROBANQUETS RMX AND RAHI, ADDA AND DHARAMAKA RESTAURANTS, RONI MAZUMDAR, SAYING: "The magic is, we've all been seeing television for almost a century now. And when we think of TV, it's a flat surface that we are not inside of. What if we could be in that moment, be a central character in that movie, in that scene where you are immersed within it. The biggest difference between virtual reality versus what we see, let's say, on television is that you are at the center of it all. You can look up, down, all around you and you're enveloped in that entire scene, that moment. And you're a central character and what you're doing." DINERS INTERACTING WITH GOGGLES ON / CEILING READING "AEROBANQUETS RMX" (SOUNDBITE) (English) JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, MITCHELL DAVIS, SAYING: "When we think of what is on the sort of cutting edge of food, we often think of chefs in fine dining restaurants with huge staffs making really expensive elaborate meals. I think one of the interesting things about a technology like virtual reality is, it allows you to replicate and disseminate a very sophisticated, you know, in some ways expensive technology to a much broader audience. You don't need 50 people in a kitchen and a thousand dollar dinner to have a transporting experience that changes the way you think about food. So for us, even though this is not a cheap experience, we believe that there's a potential to take the idea of, you know, a transformational relationship to a food and dining experience to more people." VARIOUS OF DINERS EATING WITH GOGGLES ON (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO OF AEROBANQUETS RMX AND RAHI, ADDA AND DHARAMAKA RESTAURANTS, RONI MAZUMDAR, SAYING: "Eventually, what I see is one day you can put on those goggles, it would be as thin as anyone's reading glasses, and off you go to any reality of your choice and the dishes that you have here are everything from a watermelon chaat, which is a version of a chaat that both of us, myself, chef, have grown up with to different things, like, for example, there's a papaya chutney gummy bear that's topped on a lamb that's seared. Now, what happens is these textures, these flavors might seem familiar, but at the same time, all of a sudden something new happens. And I think what this experience is doing to a lot of people, it's giving you, it might be giving you something that you've experienced before, but in a whole new way." VARIOUS OF DINERS TAKING OFF GOGGLES
- Embargoed: 3rd January 2020 22:33
- Keywords: James Beard Rahi Roni Mazumdar VR eating Virtual reality
- Location: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES / SHANGHAI, CHINA
- City: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES / SHANGHAI, CHINA
- Country: USA
- Topics: Living / Lifestyle,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA009BAS3UCB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Step aside foams and plant-based food, the cutting edge of food may not even include food anymore.
That's the idea of Aerobanquets RMX, "a mixed reality art and dining experience" currently on the menu at a mecca of New York dining, the James Beard House. In practice, the Virtual Reality (VR) eating experience allows diners to see a representation of their food through goggles they wear while dining. VR, a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image, enables users to immerse.
The artist behind Aerobanquets RMX is Italian interdisciplinary artist, Mattia Casalegno.
And VR eating upends the traditional experience of eating, diners at the Beard House told Reuters.
"When I see steak, I think, 'ok, it's gonna be like this. It's going to have this chewiness, or this softness,'" explained Wolfgang Jorde, a 25-year old finance associate of the James Beard Foundation who participated in a VR meal at which Reuters was present. Having traditional vision replaced with VR imagery eliminates the visual element of customary eating. And so as food came his way, Jorde was "really trying to figure it out," he said. It's 'like tasting for the first time,' It's like, you know, you've never had a piece of cod before and you're trying to figure it out."
The meal Jorde and his peers participated in was hosted by Aerobanquets's CEO Roni Mazumdar, who is also the founder of New York-based South Asian restaurants Rahi, Adda and Dhamaka. And so the night's menu was heavily influenced by region, including a Kafta featuring goat cheese, and a Dal with lemon dumplings,
For Mazumdar, the hope is that eating will become a "little more enhanced because of the ambiance" VR allows. "Would that seafood taste better if you were sitting on a boat in the middle of an ocean with your uncle next to you that you haven't seen in years?"
VR eating has also appeared at Japanese restaurants like, "Tree by Naked." Aerobanquets RMX itself has already had runs in Seoul and Shanghai.
But according to Mazumdar, the inspiration for VR eating is in fact nearly a century old, stemming from "The Futurist Cookbook," which was published in 1932 by Italian activist, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, as a collection of surrealist recipes.
As with many new trends, VR eating is currently an elite affair. Tickets cost $125 per person for the hour-long, seven-course experience at the Beard House.
Whether VR will ever have a mass appeal remains an open question; consumer VR software investments fell 59 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to SuperData Research, as was reported by Bloomberg.
At the same time, hardware VR sales are up. And according to Mitchell Davis, the chief strategy officer of the James Beard Foundation, VR eating has the potential to bring "expensive technology to a much broader audience," as he told Reuters. "You don't need 50 people in a kitchen and a thousand dollar dinner to have a transporting experience that changes the way you think about food."
Located in Manhattan's West Village, the James Beard Foundation is known for giving out the biggest awards for the U.S. restaurant industry.
Tickets for Aerobanquets RMX are available through January 26.
(Production by: Dan Fastenberg and Hussein al Waaile)
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