How a team of sensorial experts turned the standard dining experience on its head
Stella Artois ditched the traditional dining experience in favor of an immersive journey that simultaneously stimulated attendees’ senses. Set inside a massive dome in Toronto, the Stella Artois Sensorium experience was comprised of a five-course meal meant to challenge attendees’ sense of taste, sight, smell, sound and touch from start to finish.
The inspiration for Stella Artois Sensorium began with the brand’s iconic glass chalice, which was designed to enhance consumers’ senses as they sip the Belgian-style lager. To expand that concept into an interactive, multisensory dining experience, the brand’s handling agency Mosaic brought in a team of sensorial experts, led by Richie Farina, a celebrated chef renowned for his cinematic flair and focus on local ingredients.
Also included among the sensorial experts were Nyles Miszczyk, a record producer and musician who lent original compositions spanning multiple genres to the experience; Dr. Irwin Adams Eydelnanat, who infused the dome with aromas meant to trigger memory and emotion among attendees; and filmmaker Jamie Webster, whose original 360-degree film was projected inside the dome, reinventing diners’ sense of space.
How did Stella Artois engage all five senses at once without triggering sensory overload? In a word, balance. While the sensorial experts each took the reigns on one course of the meal, the brand ensured that, with each round of food, one sensorial experience didn’t overpower the others.
Take the first course, for example—an edible garden growing down the center of each table. Not only did attendees have to forage for their own salads (shovels were provided), they were handed test tube-like containers to pour a liquid-based ingredient onto the dish. Meanwhile, a string quartet elevated the sense of sound amid lush garden imagery, as servers used misting bottles filled with an herbal tea blend to create the aroma of morning dew.
Each course was, naturally, accompanied by a chalice of Stella Artois beer, with the exception of dessert. To end the night on a sweet note, Stella imported its European-style cider, Cidre, specifically for Sensorium, as the product is currently unavailable in Canada.
“When people think of food, typically they think taste and sometimes smell,” says Mike Bascom, director of marketing at Stella Artois. “But we don’t often talk about touch and we don’t really amplify all of the senses at the same time. Each one of our courses seeks to transport the guest into that experience… We wanted to leave our consumers with a memory they would never forget.” Agency: Mosaic, Toronto.
*This article was originally published in 2015 and is updated periodically