This past week, Italian artist Mattia Casalegno debuted his latest thought-provoking installation, Aerobanquets RMX, at Miami Art Week in Miami, Florida. The multisensory experience combined VR technology with delicious food to deliver a mixed-reality meal quite unlike anything seen before.
Aerobanquets RMX is a collaboration between the artist Mattia Casalegno and the team behind the restaurants Rahi, Adda, and soon-to-open Dhamaka — the chef-partner Chintan Pandya, the restaurateur Roni Mazumdar and Rahi’s chef de cuisine, Soham Deshpande — who together designed the menu. The performance debuted in 2018 at an arts center in Shanghai, reports NewYork Times.
Throughout the unique gastronomy experience, guests dined on five to seven dishes prepared by Michelin-starred, James Beard Award-winning chef Chintan Pandya.
Since they are unable to see their food in the real world, an animated rendering of each one-bite course appears in the virtual space as it’s served. As a result, there are no preconceptions of what one’s about to eat and diners find their senses heightened, each flavor affected by what they are hearing are seeing in the virtual reality space.
“Your senses are more open. You’re more attentive and aware of what you are eating,” Casalengo told Artnet News. “VR is a game for me. It’s a way to extend your senses and focus more on taste and texture.”
This is a wonderful way to eat a meal. Virtual space animations swirl around you, taking you to enigmatic voids with floating fruits and musical instruments or colossal classical statues. Gail Simmons, a food writer whose dulcet voice you may already be familiar with from her 16 years as a Top Chef judge, narrates the meal and describes each one-bite course.
This incredibly distinctive gastronomic and artistic experience was initially offered by Casalegno at Shanghai's Chronus Art Center in 2018; it is now being presented with Meta Open Arts and produced by Flavor Five Studio as a special event at Superblue Miami exclusively for this year's art week. The James Beard Foundation in New York also started using aerobanquets in 2020, but this is the biggest one yet, accommodating up to 16 people per meal. Every time, Casalegno works with a different chef, changing the virtual reality graphics and music to go with the new meal.
Reservations are required for dining at Aerobanquets, where patrons can select between a $58 five-bite, 30-minute experience or a $200 one-hour VIP lunch with ten bites and alcoholic beverages. The pillowy milk bread topped with mushrooms and lentils and the intensely spicy bite of Hudson Valley foie gras are highlights of the VIP version.