A culinary playground of senses and sensations. This is how Paco Roncero’s workshops are described.
Glass test tubes of olive oil line the walls of the high-tech (if not borderline sci-fi) restaurant, which is housed in the 19th-century Casino de Madrid building. Alongside the tubes, a touchscreen provides info on all 216 varieties, while other tech touches such as mood lighting and diffusers with custom-made scents (think mushrooms and humid grass) are available on a whim. A table in the middle of the room is so tech-savvy that its “sound” can be adjusted; its surface camouflaged with imagery, and groups can write their ideas or sketch directly on it. As you can imagine, as far as multisensory dining experiences go, it’s a 20 on a scale of 10.
The emphasis on food design, sustainability and emotional engineering plays out in a progressive array of cooking classes—from avant-garde spins on old traditions to tapas and cocktail making (all may require the donning of virtual reality glasses). The point, according to chef Roncero, is to learn how to create a feast for the senses. Roncero is sure to dazzle the foodies in your group with his own research on developing new textures with oil and milk—a practice that earned him a second Michelin star at Casino de Madrid’s La Terraza del Casino restaurant. Groups can also experience tastings that explore oil, champagne, wine and water, or partake in a course on culinary creativity and innovation.
Outside of Madrid, Roncero’s SubliMotion restaurant at Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza has been offering a similar “culinary show” since opening in 2014. Here, Roncero’s use of VR technology has netted the accolade, “Best Innovation in F&B” by the Worldwide Hospitality Awards.
Madrid also welcomed quite a few innovative event venues fit for large groups this year. The very premise of Sky Center—built to accommodate the first solar-powered airplane—is “wow” enough. The venue’s ephemeral structure, lit by LED lighting, can be branded with corporate colors for banquets and galas. Inside, a stage and large LED screen are available for groups of up to 1,000. Another venue to try is the iconic Mayte Commodore, which is back in business in downtown Madrid following a massive restoration. Known as a bygone-era gathering spot for the city’s socialites (and the occasional matador), the Commodore has room for 700.