Earlier this month the Science Museum, Tonic (formerly Harbour & Jones Events) and live event company Matrix UK Solutions teamed up in the impressive surroundings of the Museum’s new Wonderlab and Maths galleries to provide an immersive experience for visitors. For foodservice specialists, Tonic’s self-styled “experiential catering” was the focus.
Guests began in the Media Gallery, where Matrix UK Solutions showed off the latest innovations in event production technologies with a series of interactive walkthrough exhibits.
Next up was the first of the Science Museum’s new spaces: “Mathematics: The Winton Gallery”. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the gallery offers a fascinating journey through the revolutionary power of maths, from dog racing to the creation of the welfare state. Visitors were treated to their first taste of Tonic’s Theory of Food menu, with exotic canapés ranging from the peculiar (salmon rolls skewered on pipettes filled with a beetroot solution) to the indisputably delicious (moreish steak tartar tartlets).
Following this was the main event: a liquid nitrogen-fuelled foodservice extravaganza in the Science Museum’s new “Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery”. Visitors vied to be the first to sample levitating pasta pillows filled with flavoured butters, lollipops frozen before guests’ eyes and flavoured with green apple and tuna, duck doughnuts in a barbecue sauce and salmon skins served with frozen salmon milk.
The general joie de vivre of the 300 visiting event professionals was enhanced by the liberal introduction of science-themed cocktails, which included a luminous rose-flavoured beverage topped with freeze-dried petals and a freshly smoked whisky-based drink complete with cardamom essence to provide a palate-confounding experience.
Amid the interactive science exhibits and cocktail induced merriment, Alastair Moir, Director of Tonic, took to the stage. Standing in the Wonderlab’s simulation of the solar system, Moir extended the cosmic theme by declaring that the night’s rebrand was sure to start Tonic’s year “with a bang”.
Tonic’s focus, Moir went on, was to offer clients “something special, something different, something extraordinary… creating experiences that engage, excite and enthuse guests”.
A new milestone for foodservice?
After the speeches the event wound down, and guests were sent on their way with a goody bag from the event’s organisers. But perhaps the most valuable takeaway came courtesy of Moir: “In this industry, it’s only through innovation and trend watching that we remain relevant,” he said.
The Theory of Food menu was certainly innovative, and exploring the interaction between science and food is a growing trend among high-end restaurateurs and caterers.
Tonic’s rebrand, delving into the science behind food, represents the latest development in this trend; certainly not the last, as competitors catch on to the opportunities available to use science to excite customers. With this will come greater vibrancy, as professionals across the foodservice industry seek to bring unique new twists to their food.