A new kind of high is literally—and deliciously—cooking up in Manila, 150 feet off the ground!
Yes, anyone who has much to spare for an exciting four-course dinner with a view of the city by the bay amid the backdrop of the famed Manila Bay sunset can now experience a unique dining experience, which began in Brussels, Belgium in 2006.
Dinner In The Sky—one of Forbes Magazine’s Top 10 Most Unusual Restaurants—is now in full operation in the Philippines, following an official launch on Tuesday, thereby making it the third country in Southeast Asia (after Malaysia and Thailand) to bring gourmands to literal culinary heights. As can be seen from the accompanying photos, dinner is served to patrons comfortably strapped on a chair and around a suspended table, finally hoisted by a crane at Solaire Resort and Casino’s Esplanade in Parañaque City.
Stefan Kerkhofs, founder and owner of this novelty dining service, shared with the 22 media members invited to the launch that even as a young boy, he was already working with cranes from his father’s business. As such, it was not far fetched for the man to combine his experience in lifting people and various other things up in the air with his love for dining.
Partnering with David Ghysels, they made Dinner In The Sky a possibility in more than 60 countries to date, with the US as their next target of operations. So yes, the Philippines is ahead of the US in this lifestyle trend, which made Kerkhofs smile when noted by a happy diner.
Conquering fear of heights
The idea of being suspended 50 meters up the sky while eating a full dinner is apparently the best way to conquer one’s fear of heights, according to Kerkhofs.
As he explained, and soon enough experienced firsthand by the media that evening, the lift cannot be felt at all – no shaking, bumps or tilting. The Manila Times guarantees the ride is comfortable and safe with everyone strapped to a reclinable seat with a six-point belt. Diners are advised, however to use the comfort room, before boarding.
“Safety is our number one priority,” assured Kerkhofs. “If anyone feels uncomfortable just tell me so we can go down,” he quickly added.
The kitchen crew are secured by safety harnesses as well.
All procedures of Dinner In The Sky have been approved by TÜV SÜD, the German organization that validates the safety of products of all kinds to protect humans and the environment against hazards.
Although the crane is rented from a local company, Kerkhofs checked that the platform and machinery were designed according to German guidelines on flying structures. Meanwhile, the platforms used are built in Belgium and are regularly checked and maintained as well.
Fun, flavors in the sky
Kerkhofs certainly entertained media guests both as host and DJ, even offering, “We can update our playlist,” what with his personal choice, sounds from the ‘70s.
Enjoyment of course, also meant delicious food, far more sophisticated that the very first Dinner In The Sky, which its founder laughingly confessed was comprised of “fairly simple” oysters.
For the launch, Chef Hylton Le Roux of Solaire’s Waterside, offered detailed explanations for every courser in the meal, which comprised of Latin American dishes.
The first course was the mouth-watering spicy tuna tiradito, a raw fish dish originated in Peru. Served with a delicious paste and generous seasoning so delicious, the Aji Amarillo was made more interesting with cassava crunch and lime pickled red radish. The best drinking partner for this was a glass of mango juice.
The second course gave a twist to anticuchos (meat kebabs) using chicken instead of the old Peruvian tradition of pork. Setting off the flavors were a tamarind glaze, baby beetroot, and crispy cancha corn with mojo verde (Canarian green sauce made of cilantro, garlic, olive oil and cumin).
Choices for main course was either Mexican Adobo Spiced Atlantic Salmon or Cuban Style Slow Cooked Pork Belly.
Chef Le Roux finally served dessert with a challenge – create the ingredients from small glass jars including a scoop of ice cream – and who can approximate the form gets a high five as prize.
Bringing the experience to PH
Music Management International chief executive officer Rhiza Pascua and husband Angelo are responsible in bringing Dinner In The Sky to Manila. The couple first experienced it in Belgium four years ago.
“I was smitten [with it]. I loved the experience and kept going back,” she said. “We love to eat and we love unique experiences. Dinner In The Sky is a combination of both.”
To bring the experience to Filipinos, the couple partnered with DITS Asia and Solaire, this first run going until May 21. They might have another run in October, but Dinner in the Sky is already set for the entire Christmas season.
“Filipinos are known to be adventurous and fun-loving people, [and]this experience will be a good boost to the country’s variety of culinary outlets. Both locals and tourists alike should not miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience,” DITS Asia CEO Arvin Randahwa said.
Meanwhile, Solaire Resort and Casino VP for Brand & Marketing Lorenzo Manalang said that Dinner In The Sky is a fitting “icing on the cake” of their property’s fifth anniversary celebration.
“Dinner In The Sky is a bold testament to our commitment to continuously give our guests memorable experiences that no other property in the Philippines has done before,” he said.
“Looking beyond our fifth year, we aim to be bolder and brighter with our restaurant concepts and offers. Dinner In The Sky at Solaire Resort and Casino is just the beginning as we explore more avenues to give our guests culinary ingenuity at its finest,” director for Food & Beverage Robbert Pupping added.
Dinner In The Sky offers two times and experiences: First is at 5:30 p.m. where one gets to see the sunset, and 7 p.m. where one can enjoy the lights of Manila’s skyline. Economy Class seat is priced at P9,990 per head while a Business Class seat (upgraded to fiver-course menu) is at P14,990 with wine at the lounge before and after the session. First Class comes at P24,990 with free flow champagne at the lounge during the meal, and additional six pieces of fresh oysters from Finestra, and eight pieces of The Patisserie Signature chocolates.
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• Seats are only sold online at www.dinnerinthesky.ph
• Guest must at least be 13 years of age, with a minimum height of 145 cm (4 feet 8 inches) and a maximum weight of 150 kg. (330 lbs.)
• Package includes admission to the Dinner In The Sky Philippines lounge, a seat in the 22-seater DITS PH table, a four-course meal and free flow of water on the table.
• Advance writing is needed for wheelchair users or those with mild disabilities.
• Registration is at least one hour before the session. Failure to make it on time forfeits the seat with no refunds.
• Guests are required to sign an indemnity and waiver form. Failure to sign (and agree to) renders the admission as forfeited.
• Guests are recommended to use the restroom prior to taking the seat. • Reservation is non-transferable unless evidence can be provided for double purchase, illness or emergency and must be submitted in writing 48 hours before the affected session.
• Customization can be arranged with email@example.com.