Meet the Team: Co-Founder, experience designer, pioneer of immersive dining... Suz Mountfort
In interview with Suz Mountfort - Co-Founder of Gingerline & Flavourology
What were you doing before Gingerline? What brought you to where you are now?
Life wasn’t always so creative! After studying criminology in New Zealand, I moved to the UK-via-Sydney in 2004, landing a “boring desk job” in policy-making.
We started Gingerline in 2010 because we wanted a creative outlet which combined great food, performance and experiencing something different. And I love great food and have always been a passionate home cook.
What is the relationship between Flavourology and Gingelrine?
Flavourology is the bespoke event design arm of Gingerline. People often go to a Gingerline experience and think, “I want this for myself, my brand or my company!” - Flavourology was created to meet that demand and deliver one off, immersive food events for the brave.
What do you do day to day?
When Gingerline started we were a super small team, so you just end up doing everything, from the bookings to the experience design to the cooking to the cleaning. 10 years in I’ve stepped out of the operational side. I guess I do a mix of business stuff and experience design for Flavourology and Gingerline which fills up most of my time. We’ve got a great team of creative and dedicated people in both companies who can take my silly ideas for scripts and concepts and turn them into reality, so its overseeing that process too.
What makes Flavourology special?
Not only do Flavourology have an incredible dedicate and creative team behind them, they also have 10 years of Gingerline experience to use when creating their bespoke experiences. Gingerline are experts in immersive dining and Flavourology are the experts in menu creation for immersive experiences. It’s an incredible mix for clients and brands.
How would you define immersive dining?”
I think the term immersive dining is being misused in some places. It’s not themed dining or dressed up waiters or a bit of styling, its more about story-telling with food. Immersive dining is about engaging all your senses and your sense of imagination, but using the structure of a meal to present the experience. It’s difficult to separate the experience from the food, because the food is an integrated part of a larger story being told. I think and I hope that is why people enjoy coming to Gingerline, because we really understand this genre and I truly believe we do it best. That and it’s a gob smackingly good night out.
What role does entertainment play in immersive experiences?
We’re so caught up in the humdrum of our working lives now, that we’re all looking for a way to escape the mundane and bring that sense of freedom and experience we enjoy so often as children. That desire for adventure, risk, spontaneity is what is driving the demand for immersive experiences; whether that’s cinema, dining, or theatrics.
What role does food have in immersive experiences?
Flavourology menus are about taking people on a journey through food. To be a true adventure there needs to be a taste of the unexpected, a narrative holding the experience together with changes of pace and peaks of action, and enough drama to create memorable moments for guests to take away.
What makes immersive experiences sustainable?
Attitudes towards immersive and brand experiences have changed. People want more from a night out, a brand event or a corporate party. We all long for authenticity, a connection to the brand, no time limits on our experience and, most importantly, to be entertained. This doesn’t always mean having actors or elaborate set design; but waiting teams with personality who converse with diners and give them that little bit extra.
Where do you get your inspiration for your imaginative concepts?
We gather inspiration from all areas – the buildings that we create the events in play a big part plus whatever we’re reading, researching or watching at the time all feeds in.
What’s been your most memorable experience?
It’s difficult to say, as each experience becomes more intricate and adventurous than the last but one of my favourites has to be our hidden, golden casino deep in the heart of Honor Oak Park. We covered every wall in gold foil and guests entered the space via a tunnel and a huge working casino wheel.