Cooking Up an Experience

As we all continue to languish in lockdown, businesses have been striking on some creative at-home renditions of their craft to help get us through. Some translate better than expected—like a Zoom-based standup comedy showcase that has proven quite successful—others… probably not so much. 

Matt Pruznick

(Image credit: Future)

Of the latter, look no further than the $800 make-your-own sushi boxes from Masa. The Midtown Manhattan eatery, which was the first Japanese restaurant in the United States to be awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide—considered the most prestigious distinction in the culinary world, with only 14 U.S. establishments currently holding the rank—is slinging its fare one day per week via home delivery while its doors remain closed to the public. The initial offering includes pre-sliced raw fish, vegetables, ginger, wasabi, soy sauce, nori, and rice, and is meant to feed four.

Related: The Technology Manager's Guide to Projectors and Screens (opens in new tab)

Will it sell? There’s certainly a market for it, as New York City is home to more millionaires than the entire population of San Francisco. And in terms of cost, the breakdown of $200 per person sure beats the typical base price of $595 one would pay for the in-venue repast. But in terms of value, there’s just no comparing the two.

That’s entirely owing to one factor: experience. I’ve yet to visit Masa, but I have indulged in its ilk, having recently treated my wife to a birthday dinner at Le Bernardin, another of the city’s three-Michelin-star establishments. Though the food alone was probably worth the price of admission (those sauces!) the whole two-and-a-half-hour affair was like a journey into another world. From the moment you set foot inside, you’re treated like royalty. For those 150-odd minutes, I wasn’t a humble journalist ponying up his holiday bonus; I was a New York millionaire. Sipping a glass of quarter-century-aged cabernet, I delighted in the ballet of the banquet, a procession of courses as artfully plated as they were delicious. Even when this festival of the senses had reached its denouement and the check arrived, I still couldn’t help but smile as I picked up the pen.

How can pro AV create this kind of product? How can we cook up solutions that transform ordinary places into destinations where guests can lose themselves in wonder? It’s not an easy task; as consumer tech roars ahead, the bar for immersion is rising for nearly every entertainment industry. But professional-grade equipment manufacturers are also stepping up their game, and experiential designers are making the most of these gains. With AV Technology, we take a look at these captivating creations that are pushing the limits of what’s possible.  

I hope that these recipes for success inspire you in your design efforts, so that one day soon, when we venture out again in search of experiences, we’ll find in them sights and sounds that enable us to truly lose ourselves in a way we never could at home.

Matt Pruznick

Matt Pruznick is the former editor of AV Technology, and senior editor for Systems Contractor News and Residential Systems. He is based in New York.