By far the most interesting dining experience I’ve had in a five star hotel in a long time was at “eight” the recently opened dining venue at the Langham hotel in Auckland.

I was in New Zealand in February this year as the master judge for the Cuisine Champions of Cheese Awards which are held at the Langham. Executive chef Volker Marecek had been emailing me about his newly created dining experience over the last couple of months so I was keen to experience it first hand.

I’m a pretty picky diner. Not easily impressed by the latest trend in the food industry. So I was very pleasantly surprised with my experience at “eight” on the second night in the hotel.

The concept of having essentially eight kitchens delivering very different foods to diners in a single sitting seemed to me an idea not worth pursuing. Probably just goes to show my lack of lateral thinking.

We arrived early and the place was already buzzing. Luckily we scored a table within view of the cooking action. By 7pm the place was humming. Chefs busily talking to diners about the food they were about to cook for them. How often do you see a food and beverage manager out on the floor engaging with the diners and doing a great job of it? The place hummed for hours. It was just great theatre.

 A win/win situation with the chefs coming out from behind closed doors and the diners having the rare experience of watching each part of their meal being prepared.

 I loved it.

 Congratulations to Volker and the Langham for creating such an exciting dining experience. And the food was fantastic!