- Title: A dinner in Santa Claus' sleigh, 35-metres high in the sky
- Date: 25th November 2016
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (French) BELGIAN DINER GUEST AND ART HISTORY STUDENT FROM BRUSSELS, HELENE ZIEGLER, SAYING: "As we were on the way up, I got a bit scared. It was moving but once on top, it became very quiet. It's great to see the entire city. The food is very good. The chefs prepare it in front of us. It's wonderful." SLEIGH-SHAPED TABLE SUSPENDED ABOVE SABLON DISTRICT
- Embargoed: 10th December 2016 22:13
- Keywords: Belgium Brussels Christmas Santa in the Sky Dinner in the Sky dinner sleigh Sauta Claus
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: Living/Lifestyle,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA00359Y2V6H
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: As Brussels gears up for Christmas celebrations, a handful of guests were treated to a special dinner on Friday (November 25), overlooking the city rooftops in Santa Claus' sleigh.
"Santa in the Sky" is an adaptation of "Dinner in the sky," an event taking place once a year in one of the Belgian capital's landmarks that celebrated in June its 10th anniversary.
Organized by the local shopkeepers' union, the event will accommodate a total of 600 guests around a sleigh-shaped table dragged by four deer, suspended high over Brussels rooftops above Sablon, a district famous for his chocolate makers and antique dealers.
Once the diners are all solidly strapped to their seats, the table is lifted by a crane until Brussels' medieval and baroque buildings and Christmas lights are in full view.
Guests are treated to high cuisine from a host of Belgian cooks, some of them Michelin starred chefs, with the menu by Brussels chef Maxime Mazier including lobster and artichoke starter, seashell-flavoured wild European seabass, mango-flavoured marshmallow and speculoos biscuits dipped in chocolate.
"To have dinner at this altitude, we made sure to create a menu that is a bit simpler than what we usually have. It's easier to prepare and it comes with more cold starters than hot ones. Since one of the main difficulties is the weather condition -- it's not very hot -- so the meals get cold very fast. The main difficulty is to get the cooking level right for the fish and everything else to prevent air flow linked to high altitude to affect it. Timing is important," Mazier, chef at Brussels restaurant "L'Ecailler du Palais Royal", told Reuters.
Guests at the nearly sold-out gastronomic event paid 250 euros for a four-course meal, including white Burgundy wine from Chablis. Available between meal times, cheaper options included high tea for 55 euros and champagne sessions for 95 euros.
"As we were on the way up, I got a bit scared. It was moving but once on top, it became very quiet. It's great to see the entire city. The food is very good. The chefs prepare it in front of us. It's wonderful," said guest Helene Ziegler, a Brussels native who is currently studying art history in the nearby town of Leuven.
Ziegler, 19, added her father offered the meal to her and her sister but joked he conveniently found an excuse not to have dinner 35 metres high above the ground.
The unique dining experience was created in Brussels by David Ghysels in 2006 and has now expanded to 58 countries across the world. His associate, Michael Chiche, said altitude adds to the culinary experience.
"To be in the air, first, it's the view. Of course, you can discover your city like you've never seen it before. It could be in Dubai, it could be in London, it could be here in Brussels, it's a different way. Secondly, you're blocked. It means that you are with your guests, you are with the chef and all the flavours, everything, you're going to experience it completely differently. Of course, you can go to the restaurant, but most of the time, the kitchen is little bit on the side, you don't see the chef working. Here, you're really inside the kitchen with the chef and that the 'Dinner in the Sky' experience today," Chiche said.
Chiche said he's confident the four-day Christmas event will be repeated next year.
Santa will take acrophobia-free guests in his sleigh until November 27.
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