Paul Geary, “Experimental Dining: Performance, Experience and Ideology in Contemporary Creative Restaurants” (Intellect Books, 2022)

Dr. Paul Geary’s Experimental Dining: Performance, Experience and Ideology in Contemporary Creative Restaurants (Intellect, 2022) 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, Dr. Geary explores the creation of the dining experience as a form of multisensory performance. The book 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. The book brings together ideas around food, philosophy, performance and cultural politics to offer an interdisciplinary understanding of the practice and experience of creative restaurants.

The book interrogates the experience of the performances in and of these restaurants, with a particular focus on the entanglement of sensory, embodied, and reflective experience with the broader cultural and ideological discourses that both frame and produce those seemingly individual, personal and intimate encounters with the work.

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.

This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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