Chef Ben Spalding and his PuzzleProjects team have just opened a new summerrestaurant, called Small Plate Sessions @ The Last Days of Shoreditch in London. He tells Neil Gerrard about the "high-energy punk" tapas he will be serving and the emphasis the venue will place on music.
Can you tell us more about Small Plate Sessions @ The Last Days of Shoreditch?
This is taken a step further by the introduction of clever lighting, art, audiovisuals and playful touches, such as diners leaving the restaurant on a slide.
For me, it's all about creating as much energy in the room as possible and keeping it unpretentious, raw and accessible.
Where did the idea come from?
It's loosely based on the classic dinner and dance, but the potential of food and music really clicked for me a couple of years ago, when I was cooking at Coachella in California. They were tapping into it, but I felt so much more could be done. I have been around food and music for several years, so this is really me and my team's interpretation of it.
What dishes will you be serving?
In the mezzanine you can expect Gressingham duck breast cooked in a chocolate salt crust; chicken skin sandwich; black cod ceviche with iced kaffir lime; hot and cold San Marzano tomato; or the famous 'Chicken on a Brick'. We also have a no-reservation terrace and bar overlooking the festival, with dishes cooked in a Mibrasa charcoal oven, such as barbecue crack rib for two; Cornish monkfish roasted on the bone; charred lamb minute steak with crispy garlic and lemon thyme; and silky charcoal Holy F*ck fudge drenched in rum and set on fire.
How important is it to offer an overarching experience when opening a restaurant, as opposed to just concentrating on the food?
Very. I have developed as a chef and business operator considerably over the past couple of years. I find more and more that my projects are beyond food now, merging music, art, audiovisual, performance art and more. I never lose sight of developing the food, and our events and projects must provide delicious, well-balanced meals. We have built on this to then incorporate all of these other amazing industries to give our guests a better all-round experience. I have seen and experienced the reactions from guests at recent events - it is special.
Apparently you are curating some of the music yourself. What can we expect?
Non-commercial music is a huge part of my life and a huge passion of mine. I handle events with chefs, DJs and performers every day for my business, so it crosses over very naturally for me. I have given a residency to the hugely respected producer and DJ Gary Poulter (AKA Chuggin Edits) with other DJs from Europe, including Ray Mang and Jack C, and special sets from artists such as Get