As part of the 2016 Guernsey International Food Festival, the Bella Luce is proud to be hosting an experimental supper presented by award winning chef (and Great British Menu 2016 finalist) Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees Restaurant in Brighton on Saturday October 1st. A recipient of a Michelin Bib Gourmand (awarded to restaurants that offer “exceptional good food at moderate prices”) in 2014 and 2015 and voted 16th in the National Restaurant top 100 list 2016, 64 Degrees is an open kitchen restaurant in Brighton’s Lanes spearheading the “social dining” concept where the chefs are the star of the show and serve dishes directly to diners who sit at the pass with a full view of the kitchen. For his visit to the Bella, chef Michael Bremner has planned an interactive five-course menu, with each dish designed to focus on, excite and engage one of your major senses (sight, smell, sound, touch and taste, but we won’t give away in which order). Expect the unexpected, and prepare to be amazed! Michael’s Feast for the Senses will be an intimate affair, set in our cellar lounge and with space for just forty fortunate diners. We caught up with Michael to ask him some questions about modern dining, his inspirations, and designing dishes for different senses.
Michael, you’ve pioneered the “social dining” concept at your restaurant 64 Degrees in Brighton. Can you tell us a little more about the idea behind social dining?
The food itself is designed ideally for two people to share, but there’s more to the social dining label than this. My idea of the restaurant was to create an open kitchen that I would want to work in; the food is very much a statement of freedom, as in there are no rules to what we can and cannot do. It’s not just about the food though, the atmosphere and setting play a huge part as well, with diners being able to interact with the chefs as they make the food right in front of you. We want the food to be interesting but also accessible – diners are not dictated a price by sharing menus, rather guided by staff to tailor a meal to their own needs.
At 64 Degrees, you encourage diners to order several small plates to share. Do you think that we’re starting to see a shift in restaurant culture and an acceptance of different ways of presenting and enjoying the dining experience? Why is that?
I hope so! I think food has gone beyond the serious, overly-formal stage and people are starting to have a bit more fun with it. Food should be enjoyed with family and friends not meticulously studied and examined, at 64 Degrees we are serious about what we do but we have fun doing it, and I think that shows.
Your last position before opening the doors to 64 Degrees was as Head Chef at renowned vegetarian restaurant, Food For Friends. How did this experience influence your current work at 64 Degrees?
A few years ago I read an interview from a chef in Restaurant Magazine: the chef explained that because of the price increase of meat, everyday people will not be able to afford it in 20 years or so and chefs will be forced to increase the vegetarian offering. He also stated that most chefs should be embarrassed because all they do is risotto and soufflé as their veg options, and to be honest I was one of them! I was lazy when it came to vegetarian food, so I thought it would be a good thing to do on a personal level before opening 64 Degrees, and I believe I am much better for it.
You’ve planned a menu for October 1st with five courses, each focusing on a single sense. Which sense has been the most exciting to design a dish around? And the most challenging sense?
The dinner I am doing in October is a focus on senses, so I am not trying to shock people - more showcase each of their senses, make them all work and see if is has an effect on the diners. I have really enjoyed doing the whole menu and I think I really challenged myself with the way I thought about developing all the courses, maybe too much! To pick a favourite or the most challenging is a tough ask though as I’ve taken a pretty holistic approach to the whole thing.
Without giving anything away, are you having to bring any special or unusual equipment with you?
The kitchen at Bella Luca is pretty well equipped so I don’t think I’ll need to bring any of my own. I don’t want to give too much away so I can’t really say which of it I’ll be using, there will hopefully be some interesting things to see though.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
That is a great question! I have this process that I go through when I’m writing a menu or dish, and unfortunately it is almost impossible for me to explain it and it make any sense. Sorry!
What do you hope that diners will take away from your Feast for the Senses on October 1st?
As well as obviously wanting them to enjoy the meal I hope the diners find this dinner thought-provoking. The idea of having a dinner that focusses on your senses excites me; there will be darkness, and a refreshing look at food with a bang in there too!
The Bella Luce presents a Feast for the Senses with Chef Miachel Bremner on the evening of Saturday October 1st from 7pm. The fixed price menu costs £75 per person and includes a flight of wine matched to the menu. Please call us on 01481 238764 or e-mail us using the contact form for more information or to reserve your place.
Click to watch Michael win the Fish course of the Scotland round of Great British Menu with a 10/10 dish at the end of August.
All images courtesy and copyright of Julia Claxton.