Experimental Dining (Book)

Performance, Experience and Ideology in Contemporary Creative Restaurants

Considers four of the world’s leading creative restaurants as experimental performance practice. Using ideas from performance studies, cultural studies, philosophy and economics, the book argues that technoemotional restaurants can be understood as both a commodified experience and an artistic and aesthetic practice. 10 b/w photographs.


New Books Network (New Books in Food) interview with
Dr. Paul Geary


Experimental Dining examines the work of four of the world’s leading creative restaurants: Noma, elBulli, The Fat Duck and Alinea.

Using ideas from performance studies, cultural studies, philosophy and economics, the book explores the creation of the dining experience as a form of multisensory performance.

It examines the construction of the world of the restaurants and their creative methods, the experience of dining and the broader ideological frames within which the work takes place. Experimental Dining brings together ideas around food, philosophy, performance and cultural politics to offer an interdisciplinary understanding of the practice and experience of creative restaurants.

The author contends that the work of the experimental restaurant, while operating explicitly within an economy of experiences, is not absolutely determined by that political or economic context. Its practice has the potential to appeal to more than idle curiosity for novelty. It can be unsettling and revealing, provocative and evocative, personal and political, experimental and considered, thoughtful and sensual. Or in other words, that the food event can be art.

Primary readership will be academics, researchers and scholars in the fields of food studies, performance studies and those with interests in the philosophy of everyday life, cognitive science and sensory studies. It will be a useful resource as supplementary reading on courses on Food and Performance. It may also have interest for chefs, gastronomes, restaurateurs and artists

Paul Geary is a Lecturer in Drama at the University of East Anglia.


            The Restaurants: elBulli, The Fat Duck, Noma and Alinea               

            Philosophical Approach                                                                            

            Food, Art and Performance                                                                      

            Arguments and Structure of the Book                                                    


Chapter 1 Preparation: The Creative World of the Restaurants                   

1.1 Restaurant Philosophy            

1.2 Constructing the World                        

1.3 Creative Methods and Approaches

1.4 Technoemotional Cuisine            


Interlude 1 Progression: Italian Futurism and Technoemotional Cuisine 


Chapter 2 Presentation: Performances of the Restaurants                          

            2.1 Performing Front of House                                                                

            2.2 Reading the Menu                                                                               

            2.3 Food Forms                                                                                          


Interlude 2 Produced: Mediated Dining                                                             


Chapter 3 Perception: Sensory and Sensual Experiences                           

            3.1 Immediacy                                                                                            

            3.2 Orality: Language                                                                                

            3.3 Orality: Sex                                                                                            

            3.4 Culinary Deconstruction                                                                     


Interlude 3 Pop-Up: Food, Performance, Philosophy                                     


Chapter 4 Processing: Making Sense                                                               

            4.1 Making Sense                                                                                      

            4.2 Food Narratives                                                                                               

            4.3 Aesthetic Processing                                                              


Interlude 4 Posterity: Documenting Experiences                                            


Chapter 5 Payoff: Political and Economic Frames of Experience                

            5.1 Enjoyment and Excess                                                                                   

            5.2 Politics of the Seasonal and the Local                                            

            5.3 Experiences