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The Fat Duck has launched an animated online experience to whet the appetite of people who manage to secure a booking at the world-renowned restaurant in the three months leading up to their reservation.
Having secured a table, guests will be sent a link to a secret website where they can watch an exclusive animation introducing them to The Fat Duck’s menu and concept. The animation ends with a trip to a make-believe sweetshop, with actor John Hurt playing the shopkeeper and narrator. Watching the animation is not compulsory, but its exclusivity is maintained by the fact that guests are only allowed to access the secret website four times.
Heston Blumenthal, whose Bray-based restaurant receives 30,000 calls a day from hopeful diners, has wanted to reward guests who manage to bag a table via the famously tough booking system for some years – although those failing to secure a reservation will no doubt question why he didn't plough the money into a less frustrating booking system altogether.
Blumenthal explained that the point of the animation was to start the dining experience before people even arrive at the restaurant. ‘The Fat Duck is the type of restaurant you may only ever eat in once,’ he said. ‘I wanted to create that almost child-like feeling of anticipation – the feeling of being “like a kid in a sweetshop”.’
The animation references the final dish on Blumenthal’s 14-course tasting menu – also called Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop. The pink-and-white striped bag contains a caramel with an edible wrapper, aerated chocolate, coconut baccy and a white-chocolate Queen of Hearts playing card.
Blumenthal has contributed to research into multi-sensory dining since the late 1990s, working with academics and scientists to find out more about the way each sense influences our experience of a meal.
To watch an example of the animations, visit The Fat Duck website.