“Welcome, my friends. Welcome, to my chocolate factory!”
While Gene Wilder coined the phrase in the 1971 classic film reminiscent of a Grimm’s fairy tale, Mass Foodies, along with their partner Eventive, took the phrase and gave it life.
Playing on childhood memories and taking into great details the essence of the movie classic, The Willy Wonka Experience hosted at Sweet Kitchen and Bar dabbled in the world of edibles and extravagance. The night was ripped from the pages of a storybook, with a whimsical gate entrance, a menu filled with both sweet and savory dishes and of course, a “standard form of contract” to be signed prior to entering the bubble filled elevator for the ride up to the event. During the cocktail hour, guests were treated with the sights and sounds of the unexpected. As they made their way to the bar to fetch their Fizzy Lifting Cocktail, they were greeted by Willy Wonka himself, photo booth opportunities and servers passing out maple and bacon cotton candy and golden deviled, picked egg hors d’oeuvres.
The night was about exploring the world of Wonka through flavors by adding a unique flare to each dish and presenting guests with a memorable night filled with smiles, delight and pure indulgence. The bar and tables were adorned with Wonka displays of rainbow lollipops and fresh green grass, replicating the ever-lasting image of Wonka’s chocolate room. “Everything from presentation to taste was perfectly executed for this kind of unique event,” said Erica Micciche.
Highlighting the experience was Chef Alina Eisenhauer’s delicate touch on the main courses. Incorporating the inspiration and details of Willy Wonka, Eisenhauer was able to create dishes meant to play on the threads of imagination and toy with the feeling of impossibility—blending colors with flavors and tricking the brain all at once.
Each dish presented a unique element from the movie. Starting with the first course, the local greens salad was adorned with edible flower. The second course, Confit Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, was plated in a wooden mushroom bowl and served on top of a roasted garlic hollandaise. The dish between the mushroom and duck was a trifecta of brightly colored pirogues rolled and folded to resemble candies and tarnished with miniature carrot, halved radishes, and flowers. These dishes made room for the ornate main course, the Duck Roulade which a Hudson Valley duck breast rolled and dusted in cocoa matched with a rolled purple sweet potato croquette with blackberry port. Both the duck and croquettes were rolled to resemble candy and plated in a Rolo candy wrap, the dishes were a transformative experience for many guests. “Chef Alina is always playing with flavors and this was a great vehicle for her to experiment tastes,” said Dana, a guest fully immersed in the playful spectacle of Wonka’s world.
The highlight for many, however, was the dessert. To “cleanse the palate” Chef Alina offered a chocolate truffle dusted with gold and blended with an airy whipped peanut butter filling. To end the night, however, was the Flavor Tripping golden eggs. A cotton candy infused with some Willy Wonka magic that tricked the tastebuds into making lemon juice infused blueberries taste like candy and saltines taste like cake.
The Willy Wonka Experience was just that: an experience. While Mass Foodies attempted to blend all the senses into the world of Willy Wonka, Chef Alina and her team were able to break down the barrier between sights and tastes; by tricking the mind into tasting flavors that weren’t there… or were they? “The theme was perfect because such a timeless story is able to cross generations. The food was playful but sophisticated at the same time,” said Peter Dunn. “I look forward to the next idea!”