It’s not everyday that you go for a meal in complete darkness. Imagine cooking for you and your friends at home, then turning out all the lights just before you serve dinner. It’s not a new idea but it’s one that’s been making an impact across the world, pleasing diners and supporting people with disabilities, for more than ten years.
Dans Le Noir (which translates as ‘in the black’) was set up in Paris by entrepreneur Edouard de Broglie. He worked with blind charities to invest his money in an idea that would help raise awareness and change the attitudes towards disabilities.
The waiters are blind or visually impaired and guide the diners to their tables, serve the food and appear at your side when you call for them by name. It’s a complete role reversal as the sighted diners must now rely on their server. Not only does the company give job opportunities to the blind (50% of its staff has a disability), it also donates 10% of their annual profits to charity. Who knew eating could be for such a good cause?
Eating in total darkness is a new sensory experience as you have to rely on your other senses which heightens the fun. You’re depending on smell, touch, taste and without seeing the food your mind can run wild as you try and guess what’s on your plate. Diners know very little about their meal, apart from it’s primarily French cuisine. Before you enter the restaurant, you sit in a lit room and choose from a menu, picking a meat or fish dish, the chef’s special or a vegetarian plate. You’re then taken into the restaurant, guided by your server through the dark.
Why dining in the dark will make you see differently
– Sitting in the dark reduces your inhibitions and can play a huge part on social behaviour. You might find yourself chatting with the stranger next to you or even someone further away. The best bit is, you’ll never know who your neighbour is. It could even be a celebrity! In the dark we’re all the same.
– Without light to guide you, you become more aware of your other senses, something which a lot of us haven’t had the chance to do. Without being able to see your food, it’ll be a party for your tastebuds!
– We can get so caught up in checking our e-mails on our phones and responding to a Whatsapp message, that restaurants like this help us to escape our busy lives. Instead it throws us into a new, exciting place that we will want to talk about for the next month.
– There’s no vanity! No-one can see how you’re eating and it doesn’t matter if you’ve got food in your teeth when you laugh. Even if you choose to eat with your hands or lick your dessert plate clean, nobody can see. Goodbye self-consciousness!
– You also have a wonderful opportunity to learn about those people who are visually impaired and challenge all the preconceptions you might have had. Let yourself completely trust your server and you might surprise yourself.
Going out for a meal can be memorable at the best of times, especially when there’s wine involved. Now imagine the added fun of it being in complete darkness, where you can immerse yourself in the experience, talk to strangers you can’t even see and learn more about yourself along the way.
Are you ready?