Food opera is a thing, and it’s coming to St. Paul

Guests preview the St. Paul Food Opera, where a speaker playing select music is each table's centerpiece and a multi-course meal is part of the line up. The series pairs dishes from local chefs with music meant to bring out culinary sensibilities and will take place in October. Photo via Pioneer Press

The St. Paul Food Opera features dishes from local chefs paired with music meant to bring out culinary sensibilities. It will take place in October. // Photo via Pioneer Press

The relationship between sound and taste is the inspiration behind the upcoming St. Paul Food Opera, a series that will be taking place in October and mixes food, music, and art, reports the Pioneer Press.

St. Paul restaurants Tongue in Cheek, Saint Dinette, Golden’s Lowertown, Brake Bread, and Izzy’s Ice Cream will create dishes for the multi-course lunches and dinners. Speakers will be the centerpiece at each table. The events are hosted by the St. Paul music group Zeitgeist, who have partnered with composer Ben Houge.

“It’s about two things that you don’t always think of going together,” Houge said. “It’s the marriage of music and food.”

Houge, a teacher at Electronic Production and Design Department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, has been involved with several musical collaborations with Twin Cities artists including at Studio Z in St. Paul’s Lowertown. He also has family in the Twin Cities, including his brother: Nate Houge of Brake Bread in St. Paul.

Related post – Study: The music you’re listening to impacts how your beer tastes

During a recent preview event at Studio Z, the experience felt less like a restaurant and more like an experimental art and sound installation. Houge DJ’d music based on the dish that was being served and explained the instrumentals and sounds were meant to bring out a diner’s culinary sensibilities and enhance flavors of everything from salty to sweet.

“We use the word ‘opera’ because it is one of the most multimedia art forms,” he explained. “It pulls on not (just) music, but acting, theater, movement, poetry, choreography, visual arts. So many art forms come together to create an opera.”

As for the food, the tasting included five creations from five different chefs. The menus and number of courses will vary depending on whether it is lunch or dinner service. The preview installment included dishes such as a blueberry-infused gin prosecco drink, watermelon chickpea salad paired with a sparkling rosé, beef tenderloin, and Izzy’s ice cream.

Houge advises restaurant owners to pay attention to the details if they are considering integrating music into dining.

“The main thing I would suggest is simply to pay attention to the sonic experience of your restaurant. This applies to the acoustics, the choice of music and the overall volume,” he said. “That’s what this whole food opera project is about. By pairing music with food, we’re encouraging people to pay attention and enjoy the meal in a more focused way, to enhance the appreciation of the entire dining experience.”

St. Paul Food Opera reservations are available starting in August. The event will take place at Studio Z (275 E. Fourth St., Suite 200, St. Paul). Lunch seatings ($35) will be at 11am and 12:30pm on October 6-7; dinner seatings ($70) will be at 5:30pm and 7:30pm October 7-8. Learn more at zeitgeistnewmusic.org/saint-paul-food-opera.

[h/t Pioneer Press]


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