We were asked to wear black. In the very busy lobby of the Château Frontenac, some have confused our group with a funeral procession.
But it was not. The twenty or so lucky winners of this premiere of the limited series L’obscurance for an evening were preparing to experience a dinner that was if not colorful, at least exciting with mystery.
Leaving behind us the hubbub of tourists on vacation, we rush into the cellar, where a serious-faced master of ceremonies awaits us and his assistants who look like priestesses of darkness. This is where the libations begin, with the first of several champagnes and tone-on-tone bites.
How possible is it to compose a varied menu with the constraint of using only dark ingredients, whether those that nature has thus created (caviar, squid ink, morels, trumpets of death, truffle, cherry, etc.) or those that cooking techniques allow to darken, such as garlic, meat, cereals (think stout beer), etc. ? The meal will demonstrate the creativity of the Champlain kitchen team, newly led by young chef Gabriel Molleur-Langevin.
The second act of this highly choreographed evening transports us to the library, a superb room of knowledge paneled and all decked out in black for the occasion. Tablecloths, crockery, cutlery, accessories… nothing has been left to chance. Between sea urchins and beets, a certain Eclipso with jet-black eyes hypnotizes us with a first number of contact juggling. Its glass balls evoke divination. It is one of the moments of grace of the evening.
The next one takes place at the opening of the doors of our final destination, the Salon Jacques-Cartier, completely lit by (fake) candles, placed on a long, superbly decorated black table. Pianist Obscura will also be the source of emotional moments, with her dramatic and playful way of interpreting the classical repertoire.
Admittedly, during the evening there will be a rather ironic, not to say embarrassing, discrepancy between the ceremonial aspect of the evening, the repeated calls from our host to appreciate the present moment, then the public who live this exceptional evening through… his phone. Hopefully the predominance of media and influencers in the room is the explanation.
Never mind, you have to tip your hat to the Château Frontenac team, who managed to imagine, design and deliver a flawless dinner-event in about a month. Darkness for an Evening is part of Fairmont’s “Beyond the Limits” program. These are exceptional experiences that each hotel is free to imagine, to further enhance the stay of customers.
If other hotels have opted for an underwater ballet (Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii), a concert in a cenote (Fairmont Mayakoba, Mexico) or an enchanted forest on the roof (Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver), the Château Frontenac, , bet on the talent of its new chef, Gabriel Molleur-Langevin, who arrived at the helm of the Champlain restaurant at the end of April. No sooner had the former head of Mousso packed his bags in the Old Capital than the director of marketing, Stéphane Morin, invited him to his office to offer him his first big challenge. “It was a bit last minute, but Gabriel got on board right away,” said Mr. Morin.
“A month and a half after I arrived, Stéphane came to see me. He showed me what was happening elsewhere in the world as gastronomic events, says Gabriel Molleur-Langevin. Quickly, we decided that the concept would revolve around dark food, in large part. I quickly made him a menu. I was inspired. Then we added other sensory elements to the experience. Velvet chairs, leather underplates made by a Quebec craftswoman and many other little details. »
Cirque Éloize has been called in to help. Who is not impressed by the prowess of its exceptional humans? Their participation also gives a little retro je-ne-sais-quoi to the evening, like acrobats who came to entertain the royal court. Circus artists are those unique beings who pass between worlds and social classes without belonging to any of them, seeking only eyes to appreciate their talent.
The evening would not have been the same without the animation of Yan Imbault. With his sinister mien, the celebrant is capable of gravity, but also of well-placed strokes of humor, especially when he feels that Dom Pérignon is beginning to rise to the heads of the guests.
Admittedly, this shadow dinner lasts a very limited time, but Stéphane Morin sees the possibility of organizing meals that go out of the box a few times a year. “These are fun projects for the clients, who come to live an extraordinary experience, but also for the Château teams, who feel stimulated. »
This immersive experience, limited to 20 guests per evening, costs $650 per person, plus tax (including tips), but it’s not exclusive to hotel guests. In comparison, the Champlain’s discovery menu, with pairings, costs $350 per person before taxes and tip. Darkness for an Evening is offered on Thursday evenings until September 14. So there are only five performances left. Reservations can be made online or by contacting Mme Eva Lévy directly.