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June 28, 2024

Eventex events industry trends: Interactive food experiences

With Taubie Motlhabane, CEO of the Cape Town International Convention Centre 

Events have always been about bringing people together and sharing experiences, much like food — whether in a restaurant or a family dinner at home. Blending food and events together, therefore, is a match made in heaven, and it’s no wonder it has also been highlighted in The Eventex Events Industry Trends Report. Let’s explore how to seamlessly merge the magic of events and food to create a memorable experience. 

Interactive culinary experiences uncovered 

Both events and food are incredibly versatile, meaning the creation of interactive culinary experiences gives you endless opportunities. That said, the level of interaction depends on the intended purpose. To give you an idea of how that works, below you will find some practical examples.

Unique and immersive experiences

One of the main purposes of interactive culinary experiences is to create a unique and immersive experience for diners. Some examples include: 

  • Center stage — a table is set on a stage and a small group of guests are treated to an intimate dining experience, whereby the on-stage kitchen staff interact with and serve the guests directly. Guests are made to feel like they are the center of the universe throughout the experience thanks to the personalized treatment and the spotlight aimed over their table. 
  • Food and wine pairing sessions — these interactive tasting sessions have chefs and beverage specialists teach participants about how to successfully pair different types of food with wines, as well as the principles behind this little-known science.
  • Local food tours — an immersive experience where participants are taken on guided tours to nearby markets and food stalls where they can sample local delicacies and ingredients. Cooking demonstrations or tastings can be incorporated along the way by dedicated staff to enhance the experience.

Immersion through food preparation 

This approach ensures that attendees are engaged by involving them in the process of food preparation.

  • DIY food bars — interactive food bars where attendees can customize their dishes. For example, a taco bar where guests have the option to choose their fillings and toppings, or a pasta station with various sauces and ingredients to mix and match.
  • Culinary workshops — hands-on workshops that teach participants how to prepare local dishes. Each participant is provided with the necessary ingredients, equipment, and recipe cards.

The art of engaging attendees 

Another way to ensure attendee engagement in interactive culinary experiences is by blending the art of food preparation with entertainment.

  • Live cooking demonstrations — cooking stations are set up, with chefs demonstrating the preparation of various dishes. Attendees learn more about the chef’s techniques and have the opportunity to ask questions. They can then sample the finished dishes as part of their menu.
  • Interactive food art installations — this involves collaboration with local artists to create food-themed art installations that attendees can interact with. For example, a sculpture made entirely of chocolate that guests can sample, or a painting made using spices and herbs.
  • Interactive food technology exhibits — these experiences are facilitated by partnerships with culinary equipment suppliers to host interactive food technology exhibits, where attendees experience innovative food technologies and gadgets that enhance the cooking process.

The sky is the limit 

The examples above are just a few ways to blend food and events to create memorable experiences and engage attendees. Other ideas include crafting a menu around a popular movie or TV series, a dining experience with a murder mystery playing in the background, a sensory pairing of food and audiovisual projections, or the exact opposite — “dinner in the dark” focusing on taste and smell. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and budget

Dolce finale 

Merging food and events is one of the most efficient ways to engage attendees and ensure that the experience leaves a lingering pleasant aftertaste. 

As we await the reveal of the Eventex Awards 2025 menu, take a look at what the last edition’s winners served to impress our stellar jury.

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