We interviewed Adrià Subirana, the 28 year old director & chef of “Dans le Noir”, that quite peculiar restaurant where you eat in the dark, you do not see anything … and their waiters are blind. “You have to rely on them blindly” when you start with the experience “they are your eyes”.
Adrià tells us that he came to “Dans Le Noir” three and a half years ago. He started as head chef and two years later he became director. In his dishes he tries to transmit “the kitchen of his grandmother” since it was with her he discovered his great passion. With the kitchen of the stews … slowly … with their “chup chup”, and fondly combined with the French cuisine he successfully realized this mixture of flavours in the dark.
Recalling the first time he went to “Dans le Noir” as a customer – he did not even imagine that one day he would be part of their team – Adrià explains that he misjudged two of the three wines on the menu: he does not like rose wine and said that two of them had liked, …he was very surprised when they explained that all three were rose. He was amazed by the experience.
Adrià, how would you summarize the experience of dining in this restaurant so curious?
Eating blindly means sharpen the other senses, such as hearing, taste, smell and touch. The customer who attends “Dans le Noir” has to guess at the end of the dinner what has been the menu and there are many surprises.
The client first encounters a human experience because we work with blind people and try to change the roles, because when we enter their territory, we become the blind and depend on them.
The second experience would be a sensorial one because the menu is based on traditional French cuisine with small touches of cuisine from various parts of the world. It is also sensorial because 9 out of 10 people confuse the wine colours between white, rose and red.
The third experience would be social. The tables are always shared. If you come with your partner, at the table you will always have people next to you who does not know anything about you and you will end up sharing the experience with them. When entering the room in the dark, there are no races, cultures or social classes. In the dark, we are all the same.
Do the dishes you choose contain ingredients that are meant to fool the customer in their blind experience or are it menus that we could find in any other type of restaurant?
To this day, as I like traditional cuisine but also that of other countries, “Dans Le Noir” ‘s cuisine is based on flavours that we can identify but we always give them a special touch. Creating a menu is very complicated because there have to be recognizable flavours, different textures and ultimately, food that everyone likes but you have to add something extra. We do not make a menu that is based on confusing the client exclusively, because people like to know what they are eating. On the subject of wines, we play more in the wrong. As an anecdote, there are two products that to me are the ones that cheat most: the monkfish and the tuna. Both, cooked with certain recipes, playing with aromas and spices, can be confused perfectly with chicken.
Tell us a little about “Dans Le Noir”’s menu. How many times did you change it? Do you test it all before submitting it? Is the presentation really important?
The menu is changed every three months, and all the waiters and restaurant staff try the menu. We try it in the light and in the dark. The presentation of the dishes is very important. Although people do not see the dishes I do see them and for me it is important that the dishes come out just like on the photo.
During your years in “Dans Le Noir”, you sure have been able to live curious or funny experiences. Could you tell us some?
So many. For instance a month and a half ago a boy came to dinner, a surprise that his friends had prepared, but the biggest surprise was that he realized that his shirt was totally fluorescent what he did not know before. Solution: dine without a shirt. Then there are people that being in the dark and not knowing what they are eating and drinking become a little afraid and there are also people who suffer from claustrophobia and for them we have a special table near the hallway where they can see the light from time to time by raising a little the curtain and they stay more calm.
How is the room after dinner?
There are times when things fall (laughs). Cutlery falls easily and people end up not using them and choose to eat with their hands. In fact we encourage you to do so. To see the dish, the fingers become your eyes. When eating with your hands, you notice the textures differently and it changes the taste of food.
How do you hire the waiters?
Normally we work with the ONCE who is the best adviser. But lately we hire a lot through “word to mouth”. A waiter who is working with us meets a blind friend, introduces him to us, we gave him two days of training and the third is already serving in the room. They are also the ones who explain and watch over safety regulations.
Not Just Fashion in collaboration with BCNpati would like to thank the whole team of “Dans Le Noir” and Adrià in particular for giving us the opportunity to know and enjoy this original and tasty experience.
See you soon in the dark!
See http://barcelona.danslenoir.com/en/home/ for more info!