Let’s face it; we all love a dinner with a view. Relaxing with a lovely glass of wine in hand, watching the sun set over across the horizon or seeing the lights of the city all around – it’s certainly one of the most romantic and enjoyable experiences you can have. But there is company out there in the world that takes the idea of a ‘dinner with a view’ to a whole new level. Just be warned – you’d need a head for heights to sit down at this dinner table!
Now I have admit something. For me, a large part of travelling is being able to sample the cuisine. Experiencing brand new culinary experiences and being brave enough to try something completely new is a brilliant and delicious way to acquainted with different cultures all across the world. And even if you’re not travelling particularly far away – say, France, for example – going on holiday is still a great excuse to splash out on a lovely meal. You gotta treat yourself after all!
With this in mind I thought I’d have a closer look at one of the most mind-boggling dining experiences this world has to offer. I’m sure you’ve all seen the videos of a dinner table being hoisted up high into the sky at some point on social media, or maybe you’ve heard about it coming to a city near where you live. Well, the concept is called Dinner in the Sky, and one of the masterminds behind it is Stefan Kerkhoffs. He was kind enough to join me for a little chat for my second episode of my podcast and tell us a little more about this one-of-a-kind experience!
If you still haven’t heard of Dinner in the Sky, then I’d definitely recommend having a little look at the video below. You’ll get a good idea of what we’re talking about here!
Dinner in the Sky is exactly that – an opportunity where you and 23 other guests can enjoy bespoke, fine dining in a unique platform that’s hoisted 50 metres above the ground. You’ll be able to enjoy some of the most amazing bird’s eye views going, whether it’s gazing across the rooftops of London, looking out towards Table Mountain in Cape Town or gazing out towards the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. There’s essentially no limit to what can be done. And it just so happens that Dinner in the Sky is headed up by two very creative people with no limit to their imagination!
One of those people is Stefan Kerkhofs. Hailing from Belgium, Stefan is someone who’s managed to put an incredibly ambitious project into motion and has helped develop it from a one-off event in Brussels to a regularly-touring feature that’s now active in 40 countries.
So how did the idea even come about in the first place? Well, the Kerkhofs family actually had a large business involved with cranes and construction, but Stefan went on to found his own company named Fungroup that specialises in bungee jumping and the construction of all sorts of wild sets and platforms that could be hoisted up by cranes (he even worked on all the obstacles for a Belgian game show called Fear Factor). But the idea of using these platforms as a venue to host a dinner didn’t come about until he was approached by a friend. David Ghysels, the founder of a marketing agency based in Brussels, was tasked with the creation of a ‘dinner in the sky’ for a client. But since cranes would have to be involved, he knew that there’d be no better person to ask than Stefan.
And just like that, Dinner in the Sky was born! Needless to say, that first dinner was a clear success. The concept has since gone on to tour the world and even establish a permanent location in Las Vegas. The Dinner in Sky concept is now active in 63 different countries, including Australia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.
Dinner in the Sky around the world
Not only is the concept itself impressive, but I’m also amazed that they’ve managed to bring this amazing experience to so many places around the world! As you can imagine there’s a whole load of logistical planning that goes into each event. First the table and rig is assembled in Belgium. This in itself takes a lot of expertise and know-how – in fact the structures and stages used by Dinner in the Sky are so well-designed that they’ve picked up some top accolades from safety regulators. It’s fair to say these things are safe as houses. Once the construction is complete, transportation begins. Everything is packed away in a shipping container and sent to the final destination. A crew will be sent out and trained so that they can oversee the whole event, then once it’s over it’s back to Belgium!
In the world of gastronomy and fine dining, Dinner in the Sky is certainly turning heads (Forbes magazine has named it as one of the world’s 10 most unusual restaurants in the world). Its worldwide appeal and the travel involved has seen Stefan working around cultural and administrative challenges. While the set up for the events remains the same, going to more long-haul destinations such as South Africa or Saudi Arabia involves a lot more planning than destinations with in the EU for example, whether due to the different regulations or just the fact that things are done differently elsewhere in the world.
However, for all and any difficulties involved, it seems that Dinner in the Sky has given Stefan some invaluable experiences. Trips to Monaco has seen Stefan get acquainted with none other than the Prince of Monaco himself, who turned out to be a very relaxed, down-to-earth person! And a trip to India has left a lasting impression on Stefan that I’m sure he’ll never forget. The warm reception he received from the people there has clearly gone above and beyond anything else Stefan has encountered along the way, and I can totally understand where he was coming from when he said that it was even emotional for him when it was time to go home. I think we’ve all been there at some point – we’ve travelled to a country, fell in love with it, met so many lovely people… Getting on that return flight can be very difficult indeed!
The future for Dinner in the Sky
Stefan is a man who stays true to his motto – the sky is most definitely not the limit! He’s already got loads of other ambitious plans in the pipeline now that Dinner in the Sky is going stronger than ever. The fact that he’s gone from bungee jumping to game show sets and fine dining already demonstrates his ability to really go out of his comfort zone and try out new things.
The concept of Dinner in the Sky itself is also expanding into completely different events. Take weddings for example – couples-to-be can exchange their vows 150 feet above the ground and make that commitment together in a truly unique setting. But there’s one catch. What goes up must come down – once they’ve finished the ceremony, the newly betrothed have to make a bungee jump back down. Think you’d be brave to give it a go? Or how about watching a concert or film high above the crowds below in your own private lounge hoisted up by a crane?
And even the dining concept itself is being built upon as well. A huge project in Dubai is being planned which will see the construction of a large tower with several ‘arms’ and platforms where diners are able to dine with a new and unique view of the city. It’s exactly the same idea behind the crane-hoisted platforms we know already, but it takes it that one step further. I really cannot wait to see this implemented in real life! Dubai is already such a incredible city when you think about all of the unique and crazy things you can get up to here, so I can imagine this tower will really make a big arrival on the scene!
Listen to the interview over at our Gurucast!
I had a lovely time chatting to Stefan and I’m sure you’re going to love listening to the stories he had to tell as part of our Gurucast. There are loads of different ways to listen to it. You can use the embedded Soundcloud playlist at the bottom of the page, or you can also listen to it on iTunesor YouTube too.