|Jonathan Birchfield spoon-feeding a guest|
As I approached, he was leaning back on the lounge; plush Indian tapestries and lanterns hanging over head. He looked at me with eager anticipation.I got down on one knee, and he leaned forward, mouth slightly agape. I slowly reached out toward his mouth and stuck it in. I had just spoon-fed my first stranger.
Sounds weird, but hey -- this is Europe; a continent known for being more receptive
to sensuality. While on vacation in Norway this summer, I discovered spoon-feeding, also called arrabiata, an idea promoted by one of Norway's coolest chefs, Kjarten
Kjetland. He and a partner started Extreme Dinners, decadent
events where they serve top-notch food in amazing locations. In one instance, he had guests travel by bus, tunnel, and ferry to the base of a glacier, then change clothes and hike up it, in order to taste his sixteen courses.
I, fortunately, was able to
experience his work first hand, no hike required. The spoon-feeding concept dinner, which he calls "arrabiata," started with a challenge during Haugesund's festival season. Kjetland wanted to allow his guests to come and go during service without the constraints of table service -- sitting in place, getting stuck next to one person all night. He devised the idea to serve sixteen courses of canapes, but that quickly evolved during one inordinately drunken service.
|Maître d' Jonathan Birchfield and Chef Kjarten Kjetland|
According to Kjetland, "During the 2004 festival season, we were doing five parties in a day; two and half hours, back to back. Norwegians are known for drinking and festival's tend to promote that. One party came in buzzed already, wanting to listen to their own music. We let them do so, but then we had a a group of drunks dancing to 80's music. No one was eating. In a panic action, I sent the waiters back to the kitchen to re-plate the food on spoons; to actually feed the guests. At the end of the service one of the guests said to me, 'It's kind of sexy. I like being fed.' And the concept grew from there."
So what was it like to feed complete strangers? Interesting, to say the least. It was a bit nerve-racking walking up to that first guest, spoon in hand, reaching for his mouth. Even though they knew what to expect, the guests were demure to start. Then again, they were dead sober in the beginning. As the perfectly paired wine went around with the intoxicating spoons, they started to relax. Some opened wide as soon as I approached. By the end, it was like feeding candy to a baby. Only difference -- it was a spoon of foie gras and a drunk gourmand. Now, who will dare bring this concept to Fort Lauderdale?