Shaun Quade is collaborating with a fragrance specialist for what is sure to be an unusual dinner.
Shaun Quade wants to lead you by the nose. At an eight-course dinner next month at his South Melbourne restaurant Lûmé, diners will taste duck from Victoria, vanilla from Far North Queensland, sea urchin from Tasmania and crocodile from the Northern Territory, but they'll also be subject to scents that evoke ocean, rainforest, pasture and wetlands.
The event is called (tentatively) "A Journey around Australia" and it's a collaboration with renowned fragrance specialist and master perfumer Samantha Taylor. Quade's fascination with the power of smell will get free rein.
It's not all about being spritzed with Eau de Kakadu between courses, though. The 25 guests will move to different parts of Lûmé throughout the night (including, possibly, a storage container in the back yard), with temperature and lighting adjusted to reflect the journey. There may even be a hidden fan involved.
"I don't want to sound like a wanker, but I want this to be restaurant as theatre," says Quade. "It's about everybody having their role to play and the dining room being like a stage, but it's also about the notion of tinkering and creating to produce a work that's bewildering."
Quade has never been short on ambition or afraid to bewilder. He's already taken a leaf out of The Fat Duck's playbook and had actors and psychologists in to work with his staff, teaching them techniques to bring a sense of ease to the dining room. He's playing with different scents for different parts of the restaurant and installing lighting that will bring extra drama.
And there's more where that came from. This dinner is something of a taster for the way Lûmé will roll over the next 12 months. Actors from an experimental theatre company, for example, are set to join the cast of chefs and waitstaff temporarily to "take multisensory into overdrive".
"I like to question what going out to dinner means," says Quade. And suddenly there's a whiff of understatement in the air.