Dark dining experience is enlightening
Lynda Steele & Sandra Hermiston, CTV British Columbia
Published Wednesday, May 1, 2013 6:00AM PDT
**Story first aired in January 2013
Blind dining has become a hit in major cities like London, Paris and New York. Now, this unique dining experience has arrived in Vancouver. The Dark Table restaurant in Kitsilano is offering up fine dining in complete darkness.
The restaurant is the brainchild of Moe Alameddine. Customers order their food in the lighted lounge and then are led to their table in the dark dining room by a blind or visually impaired server.
Lazare, a 32-year old musician from Togo, West Africa, is one of those servers. He has been blind since the age of nine and enjoys helping the sighted experience his world.
"I tell them just relax, enjoy your food, forget about this darkness. I am around to help you," said Lazare.
Dining in utter darkness can be a discombobulating experience. Smells and sounds are more intense and it can take more than a few stabs to get at the entrée.
"The taste is so vibrant that you don't even feel that you need to eat the whole meal. You're just tasting it and you feel satiated. It's a really interesting experience," said CTV consumer reporter Lynda Steele.
The blind dining experience originated in Zurich in the home of a blind man named Jorge Spielmann. He would blindfold his dinner guests so they could experience what eating is like as a blind person.
Those early dinners morphed into the first dark dining room in the world. Alameddine was so inspired by the concept that he brought it back to Canada. He now operates three dark dining restaurants in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
There is a 70 per cent unemployment rate among blind and visually impaired people in B.C., so the Dark Table offers much needed jobs.
"I changed some people's life. That was, for me very important, giving hope to people," said Alameddine.
And while he is proud to offer employment to blind and visually impaired people, he admits that it is truly the blind offering this eye-opening experience to the sighted.