The Taste of Melbourne festival broke new ground in event marketing with an innovative, multi-sensory virtual reality activation giving visitors the chance to experience award winning chef Shaun Quade’s unique approach to his restaurant, Lûmé.

Catalyst developed the Virtual Reality content in collaboration with IMG. Filming took place on-site at the Lûmé Restaurant and in the Yarra Valley with Virtual Reality animation completed at Catalyst VR’s London and Sydney studios.

When talking to Quade about his restaurant he explained “the main focus behind Lûmé was giving people an immersive experience”. This became the inspiration for the Virtual Reality giving viewers the chance to experience being in the Lûmé kitchen and sourcing ingredients, with Shaun and his staff as if they were actually there.

Quade was looking for a way to share the fundamentals behind his restaurant; firstly that Lûmé offers it’s guests a multi-sensory experience, secondly that the food they produce is locally sourced and seasonally driven, and thirdly they craft their dishes to look almost like pieces of art. These three key themes; multi-sensory, local produce and artistry were the key inspirations for IMG and Catalyst VR when developing the narrative and aesthetic for the Virtual Reality content.

The Virtual Reality experience takes the viewer on a journey that addresses Quade’s dining philosophy, the inspiration behind many of Lûmé’s dishes and in particular their iconic Meyer Lemon Tree desert.

Animation was key to the project in order to link the two locations, the farm and the restaurant. The opening scene allows us to transport the restaurant into the orchard and this is echoed at the end of the video where the diner is transported back from the restaurant into the orchard.

Gabriel Howard

Catalyst VR Creative Director

At Taste of Melbourne those attending the Lûmé Looking Glass Virtual Reality Experience were ushered into a shipping container dressed to recreate an area of the restaurant and given Samsung Gear VR headsets to wear. The VR experience beings by transported the viewer into a lemon orchard within the Yarra Valley farm where Quade sources his lemons and other produce.

From here we are transported back to Lûmé to watch Quade and his team prepare their signature dish. To add to the multisensory experience, diners will also be spritzed with the scent of freshly cut grass and aromatic Meyer lemons.

As people explore the orchard and the restaurant in full 360 video, 2D images populate around them highlighting the efforts the Lûmé team go to prepare their dishes. (Spoiler Alert) Once the Virtual Reality component has finished and the headsets are removed, guests will find Quade and his team have secretly plated the signature Meyer Lemon Tree desert and served it in front – now they can taste the amazing dish they have just seen being created from ‘Paddock to Plate’.

There’s a lot of potential with virtual reality in restaurants – it’s the next step to allowing diners to really know what they are eating, beyond being told about the provenance of the ingredients and inspiration behind the dishes.

Paul Kristoff

The City Lane

Lûmé Looking Glass is Catalyst VR’s first piece of VR for a Restaurant and we’re looking forward to working with more over the coming months. As restaurants compete to attract diners those that will stand out will be the ones who embrace technology such as VR to tell their unique story and inspire diners to come and experience what they have to offer first hand.

Food is about more than flavour alone, it’s about taste, touch, sight and smell. So why not ignite the senses, tell a story and create engaging content through virtual reality?

Taste of Melbourne Virtual Multisensory Dining

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