A new interactive reservation experience, voiced by actor John Hurt, has been created by Heston Blumenthal for The Fat Duck which allows diners to enter a secret online sweetshop and view an animated version of the menu.
The new reservation experience will launch in March and is the culmination of a project that the celebrity chef has actually been trying to develop for a number of years.
The sweetshop theme is already in place at the former number 1 restaurant in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants as diners can enjoy a bag of sweets with the smell of a sweetshop containing caramels with edible wrappers, aerated chocolate and edible playing cards.
Now, with the interactive reservation system, Blumenthal says the whole sweetshop project has come together.
“The Fat Duck is the type of restaurant you may only ever eat in once and I wanted to create that almost childlike feeling of anticipation beforehand. In order to achieve this, I needed to push the dining experience beyond the traditional time we spend inside the restaurant at the table. If I could use a metaphor to explain the feeling I hoped to create for my guests, it would be ‘like a kid in a sweetshop,’ so with that in mind an idea started to develop.” he said.
Secret online animation
After making a reservation diners will receive an email invitation to the secret online animation around a month before their booking. This animation can only be viewed by guests and only four times.
Viewers will be able to go on an interactive tour of the menu they are soon to experience before ending in a pretend sweetshop with award-winning actor John Hurt supplying the voice of the shopkeeper. Once at Bray, subtle references will be made to the shop before diners can taste the sweets themselves at the end of the meal in a bag of treats Hurt references in the animation.
The idea is designed to build-up the excitement of a visit to The Fat Duck in the diners mind and trigger those emotions throughout the meal.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants
Blumenthal's original idea to create an Alice in Wonderland-style fantasy world similar to 'falling down the rabbit hole' was brought to life by Manchester-based creative studio, The Neighbourhood.
The Neighbourhood worked on the project for a number of years and partnered with Zelig Sound to create sounds of a sweetshop to bring life to Hurts narration, written by Dave Bevan of the creative agency LOVE.
Blumenthal is known for trying new restaurant techniques to heighten all the senses of the diners that experience his food in The Fat Duck. The restaurant, founded in 1995, has 15 tables for 42 covers but often receives thousands of calls a day for bookings.
Ten years after opening The Fat Duck gained the number one spot in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants , and, in a video interview for BigHospitality , Blumenthal credited the win with saving the restaurant from financial problems.
To get a sneak preview of the experience, the animation and to hear Blumenthal and the creatives discuss the project, watch the video below: