| BRUSSELS, June 7
BRUSSELS, June 7 If someone drops a fork at
Dinner in the Sky, a seven-tonne platform may have to be lowered
50 metres (yards) to pick up a new one, so diners tend to keep a
good grip on the cutlery.
Joining a growing trend for extreme dining - from supper in
the dark to eating in the jungle - Dinner in the Sky takes the
concept to, well, new heights, with a select group of guests
sitting around a table suspended 160 feet in the air.
You could be eating above a forest, hovering above a beach
or dangling in the midst of a European capital, floating above
landmarks usually only seen from the ground. Whatever the
location, the aim is to elevate dining out of the ordinary.
That's the case with the Brussels edition of Dinner in the
Sky, which during June gives 22 diners at a time the chance to
enjoy gourmet food and champagne while suspended near sites such
as the Royal Palace, the famed Atomium or the Cambre forest.
"I just thought, wouldn't it be nice if we could eat up
here?" Stefan Kerkhofs, one of the Belgian creators, explained
as a group of guests was hoisted above Brussels this week.
Kerkhofs, who used to set up bungee-jumping and amusement
part installations, partnered with marketing executive David
Ghelys to develop Dinner in the Sky six years ago. The two now
travel the world putting on dramatic dining shows.
Kerkhofs has designed and built 40 platforms and charges up
to 250 euros ($310) a head for the experience, with Las Vegas,
Barcelona, Paris, Monaco and Tokyo all popular destinations.
While the views from up above are spectacular, the aim is to
ensure that the food is too, with some of the world's top chefs
preparing the meals. One recent menu included foie gras, lobster
with lemongrass and crispy veal sweetbreads followed by a
chocolate, caramel and coconut concoction.
"I only do special events," said Kerkhofs with a grin. "If
you asked me to do anything normal, I couldn't."
This month is the first time the event is open to the public
in Brussels, where it forms part of Brusselicious 2012, a
gastronomic fair featuring seven of the city's top chefs - a
serious pull in a city known for its top-notch restaurants.
While great food and a funky experience are the goals,
Kerkhofs has to think seriously about security too.
Diners are carefully strapped into seats not dissimilar to
those on a rollercoaster and hoisted gently by crane to the
dining altitude, which depends on wind and other weather
conditions, but hits a maximum of 50 metres (165 feet).
From above, even some of Brussels' grandest monuments are
reduced to miniature proportions, with the Royal Palace looking
more like a fancy dollhouse and the lush green Cambre forest -
site of an upcoming Dinner in the Sky event - looking more like
a mountain of broccoli on the horizon.
Just don't drop your fork.
($1 = 0.8001 euros)
(Editing by Luke Baker and Paul Casciato)