WHAT: LUXURY MULTISENSORY FANTASY FEAST
WHO: Uwe Opocensky, executive chef Opocensky joined Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental as executive chef in 2007. The culinary genius is in charge of 10 restaurants and bars at the iconic luxury hotel, including the Michelin-starred Pierre, Man Wah and Mandarin Grill + Bar. Opocensky is also known for his creative multisensory menu for the ultra-exclusive The Krug Room. Prior to his career in Hong Kong, Opocensky worked at prestigious restaurants such as Spain’s El Bulli, and Mosimann’s and Toast in London. He also cooked the 50th anniversary dinner of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
Uwe Opocensky is no stranger to creating artistic plates that can wow even the most discerning food snobs. His works have included culinary interpretations of art masterpieces by the likes of Andy Warhol, and metallic chocolate treats that look like bolts and screwdrivers. When he took on the mission to create a multisensory fantasy feast for a party of 10, however, the veteran chef took the menu into the wild.
Opocensky envisions a one-night-only, rustic wooden conservatory set up in the heart of Mandarin Oriental's organic farm on Cheung Chau. The specially built structure will feature glass flooring so guests can see the grass beneath them as they enter the dining venue.
"I'm a big believer in the farm-to-table movement, as well as organic produce," Opocensky says. "I have already incorporated [these ingredients] at Mandarin Grill + Bar and The Krug Room."
The chef says bringing a fine dining experience from his usual luxurious setting in a five-star hotel to the stunning surroundings of the organic farm, would be a dream come true for him.
"Guests will pass through the farm and see this fantasy setting in the middle of this beautiful valley surrounded by orchards, trees, flowers and twinkling candlelight," Opocensky says.
Guests will travel to the secluded venue via a yacht and golf carts, and upon arriving will be welcomed by well-trained staff who will offer glasses of Krug Champagne and refreshing cocktails.
Adding to the romantic ambience, the 10 lucky guests will enjoy the refreshments by a specially designed fire pit before heading to the main dining area, lit by artisan soy candles and furnished with customised chairs and a wooden dining table.
The table settings chosen by Opocensky include Zalto glassware handcrafted in Europe, Perceval steak knives, ceramics made by local artisan Lok Ming Fung, crystal plates by Baccarat and wood cutlery made by Japanese artisans especially for the rustic fantasy feast.
Opocensky has designed an 18- to 20-course tasting menu for this alfresco experience, and he has chosen Krug Champagne and wines from Napa's Colgin Vineyards to pair with the dishes.
"The dishes are created with what's in season," Opocensky says. "I'm also [thinking] about the ingredients available from our farm that are luxurious and that will complement the Champagne and the wines I've chosen."
For starters, Opocensky has planned for rustic pig's head fritters paired with a dish called Farmer's Hands, featuring fresh ingredients harvested from the organic garden such as potatoes cooked in soil, leaves and flowers; courgettes grilled over an open fire paired with homemade cheese and thyme beetroot cooked in the ashes with 25-year-old balsamic wild mushrooms; and foie gras mushrooms served with home-made pickles.
Other mouthwatering dishes include Krug lobster served with yuzu jelly, sea urchin French toast, trout cooked in local beeswax carrots and edible flowers, and scallops cooked in the shell in dashi broth.
Meat lovers won't be disappointed, either. The elaborate menu includes top-quality proteins such as organic suckling pig whole-roasted with fermented mustard and sauerkraut salad; organic Rhug Estate lamb shoulder cooked for 24 hours in the ground with cucumber, butter lettuce, garlic yoghurt and charred red onions; and five-month dry-aged dairy cow sirloin cooked over an open fire with girolles mushrooms, home-made ketchup and triple-cooked potatoes.
After palate cleansers such as fresh wild strawberries with Szechuan pepper whipped Japanese cream and Japanese mango vanilla ice cream, Opocensky finishes off the feast on a sweet note with a beautifully designed garden dessert that resonates with the rustic theme of the feast.
Opocensky reckons the logistics would be the most challenging aspect to pull off.
"It would not be impossible, but we would need to hire a team to build the conservatory, as well as a functioning kitchen where my team and I can prepare this lavish meal, and then everything else would fall into place," he says.
"[The experience] would be such a change from dining in the urban jungle of the city. It would be like [dining] in a fairy tale."