It will be a dining experience unlike most.
Culinary events are generally a feast for all the senses but, at Dining in the Dark, patrons will have just four.
Local chef Michael Hoy will be presenting the dining experience on Saturday, May 12 at his 106 Bridge Street location where guests will dine without the benefit of sight. The menu will be specifically designed to entice the remaining senses as blindfolded guests taste and touch their way through three courses.
“It’s a totally unique experience for sure,” Hoy said of the event. “It’s the first time I’ve ever done something like this too, so it’s making me think a little bit differently about the menu.”
The meal is meant to spark some unique conversation among guests about the role sight plays in society and how those without that sense experience the world. Hoy is presenting the dinner in partnership with Huff Estates Winery and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). All proceeds from the event will support CNIB’s programs and advocacy activities.
The organization, which has a local office in Belleville, assists people of all ages who are blind or partially sighted through a wide range of initiatives including rehabilitation, independence building, and emotional support programs.
When CNIB approached Hoy with the concept, he jumped at the chance to support the organization. Hoy said his mother has macular degeneration, so he knows how important it is for those dealing with vision loss to have better information and care.
“I loved the idea from the start,” he said.
Hoy’s company has contributed to and supported many charitable events across Prince Edward County. He said Dining in the Dark is just another way to give back to the community and stressed the proceeds would stay local.
“It’s a national organization, but all the monies that are raised go local, it sticks in the county,” he said. “People that are living in the area benefit from it.”
As for crafting the menu, Hoy says he’s had to take a slightly different approach. Where he might design a plate with a specific look in mind regularly, here he’s had to give more consideration to things like texture and aroma.
“I do that anyway, but I use my eyes to come up with menus,” he said. “We take our eyesight for granted.”
He’s found himself sitting down, closing his eyes, and imagining dishes that will be both surprising and delightful. That includes consideration of how flavour translates visually, something he likens to synesthesia — rare phenomena wherein the afflicted can sometimes taste a word, hear a colour, or see sounds.
“I’ve had to come up with ways to make my sauce almost luxuriously velvety — it’s super smooth and lovely on the tongue; that’s the sort of approach I’m taking,” he said. “You can be more subtle with your flavours as well because all of the other senses are heightened.”
As of Tuesday, there were still tickets available for the event, but Hoy said they were going fast and seats are about 60 per cent sold. Tickets cost $100 per person and include a three-course meal and a complimentary glass of Huff Estates wine. For more information about the event or to buy tickets visit https://www.facebook.com/pg/CNIBOntario/events/.