The relationship between art and gastronomy is an intuitive one. For many gourmands, good food is about more than just the ingredients used or the cooking techniques employed. Rather, the most memorable dishes often tell a story. Like artwork, a carefully-constructed plate is a direct reflection of its maker. From conjuring a sense of place to harking back to the chef’s fondest childhood memories, food can evoke the same emotions as fine art masterpieces do.
Exploring this longstanding connection between these two worlds is Regent Hotels & Resorts. The luxury hospitality brand’s newest project is the Regent Taste Studio—a multisensorial dining experience born out of innovative collaborations between artists and chefs. Available exclusively to the most discerning of travellers, the experience will see Regent chefs joining hands with artists across creative disciplines—from fashion designers to musicians.
By combining top culinary and artistic talent, the programme intends to go beyond fine dining and dive right into the heart of experience-driven travel. “We created the Regent Taste Studio to appeal to globetrotters and tastemakers who appreciate design and craftsmanship, and seek deeply immersive experiences rooted in authenticity,” says Tom Rowntree, Vice-President, Global Luxury Brands for IHG Hotels & Resorts.
While the first on-property installation of Regent Taste Studio will take place in the new Regent Phu Quoc in Vietnam later this year, the experience has already made its global debut on our very shores. Staged in Singapore for a three-night invitation-only launch, Regent Taste Studio’s premiere showcased titillating new facets of creative expression.
Hosted in collaboration with Vogue Singapore, the finale night of Regent Taste Studio’s inaugural edition invited key members of Vogue Singapore’s network to indulge in a dinner performance of epic proportions, staged by a formidable trio: Executive Chef Bruno Anon and Chef de Cuisine Andy Huynh from Regent Phu Quoc, as well as eminent Spanish visual artist Mark Rios, better known as Mr Dripping.
Rios’s stage name stems from the unique drip-painting technique he has developed, which allows him to create art without ever touching the canvas. Having exhibited across the globe and with several partnerships with luxury houses under his belt, his first performance at Regent Taste Studio saw him create a piece inspired by an amalgamation of references. While the chefs dished out exquisite dish after dish for their live audience, Rios was in the arena right next to them, adding elements to his artwork in pace with the courses that came out throughout the night.
“Being in an iconic city like Singapore, I knew I had to incorporate its skyline into my final piece. This evening was all about co-creation—the chefs presented the plates and I would create the artwork,” says Rios. “I saw the opportunity to draw guests’ attention to the ingredients featured in the menu by painting one key element from each dish. It was only at the very end when I revealed that the ingredients turned into iconic buildings in Singapore—ending the gastronomic night with a keen reminder of the place we were in.”
While Rios’s masterpiece was taking shape on his canvas, Chef Anon and Chef Huynh were whipping up delectable plates of food, each one centring on fresh, coastal ingredients—in line with Chef Anon’s culinary ethos. “Location and proximity are important factors to me. I believe in sourcing locally and taking inspiration from my surroundings. While the food at Regent Phu Quoc is contemporary and innovative, you’ll see that it also continues to respect local raw produce and tradition,” says Chef Anon.
As the chefs delved into the process of crafting the first ever menu for Regent Taste Studio, they collaborated closely with Rios to draw out commonalities that would influence both the food and art presented throughout the night. As Chef Anon shares: “We wanted to create a menu that would combine all of our unique styles while at the same time represent each of us. We started having weekly calls to get to know one another better, and realised that all of us come from different coastal parts around the world. We created dishes to showcase this parallel. For example, the dessert we came up with featured flavours from each of our regions—lemons from Valencia, where I’m from, oranges from California, where chef Andy has grown up, and pine nuts from Barcelona, where Mr. Dripping comes from.”
Eventually, the dish culminated with the chefs dripping chocolate onto a meringue canvas before passing pieces of the dessert out to the audience, in a tribute to Rios’s craft. “We thought of it as a fun way to bring art into the food component of the night. Each guest would then have a piece of Mr. Dripping’s art to complete their dessert,” Chef Anon adds.
“Food and art connect when both are born as a means of expression. The chefs had freedom to experiment and produce complex, creative and personal dishes for our guests. In turn, their gastronomy inspired my artwork—allowing guests to enjoy each dish while uncovering the story behind it. This experience is much more than what we are used to in usual fine dining experiences,” says Rios.
While the night was a fitting preview of what Regent Taste Studio has to offer, the experience will likely be heightened once it is transported into the idyllic, nature-filled ambience of Regent Phu Quoc. As for what travellers can expect if they make the Regent Taste Studio a highlight of their next sojourn, Chef Anon has this to say: “We hope each installation of Taste Studio will bring our guests around the world and give them an immersive, multisensorial and unforgettable experience they have never seen before.”
Learn more about Regent Taste Studio or book a stay at regenthotels.com.