Somewhere you should go… Secret Cinema Presents Back To The Future
It started with an immersive production of Paranoid Park for just 400 people in 2007, blurring the lines between cinema, theatre and fancy dress parties. Seven years on and Secret Cinema is now commanding international audiences of up to 80,000 for their latest production of Back to the Future, proving it’s become a popular alternative to experiencing films in the capital. Booking a pricey £53 ticket comes with advice on how to dress up and you’re given a character identity for the night. Attendees are also encouraged to leave their phones at home and keep quiet on the details, which includes a few ambitious highlights you simply couldn’t get in a movie theatre, not even in 3D.
“I feel there’s a global shift towards doing things differently, “ says Secret Cinema creator Fabian Riggall. “We’ve launched in London which is an international city, and I think our audiences are mixed and are into different things. It’s about creating these real experiences that’s mixing different art forms together where people aren’t sure if it’s a concert, a cinema screening, a theatre, a restaurant or a gallery.”
Riggall’s latest project finally opened on 31st July following an unexplained one-week delay and an social media outcry from fans who’d flown in from as far as Cambodia to see the debut. But now that it’s arrived, all might soon be forgiven as the ambitious interpretation has gotten off to a strong start.
The film’s version of the fictitious Hill Valley, California has been recreated and begins with a walk-through of an actual sheep and chicken farm before the rest of the world is unveiled. The grounds boasts of bungalow houses, retro billboards, a gas station, diners, shops, a town square, a small fun fair, a high school and of course, a replica of the clock tower that featured in the film and double-ups as the film screen. Impressively, no detail has been spared.
Actors playing geeks and jocks in 1950s outfits mingle among the similarly dressed crowds and deliver their dialogue with flawless and upbeat mid-West accents it’s easy to forget you’re in East London. The audience happily gets in on the act too, hitching rides in the vintage cars that whiz around grounds or pose for prom photos.
A highlight of the night is when things turn pantomime. A Marty McFly impersonator runs through the crowd and loud cheers go up for the film’s plucky protagonist while booing ensues for a convincing Biff Tannen and his crew who rip around the crowd and are just as intimidating in real life.
The experience starts to lose its lustre after a couple of hours of doing the rounds, especially when the reality of expensive memorabilia and painfully-long queues for food, the rides and toilets begin to kick in. The theatrical forays are a welcome distraction, like the sudden flashback performance to 1985, replete with dancers appearing in lycra and headbands and skipping around the compound. It’s odd, but it surprisingly works. It’s fun when the 80s gang latter take over a school bus and party with audience members to Van Halen’s Jump and Starship’s We Built This City. The night picks up further with a rock and roll performance and that iconic scene when McFly shows off his 80’s style guitar riffs on a purpose built stage before the film screening begins.
Where previous Secret Cinema productions might have been too obscure or raw to be fully enjoyable, Back to the Future offers plenty of reasons to love the original even more. Check it out before it wraps up on August 31st. For more information, visit www.secretcinema.org/tickets
What we’ve been up to… cocktails at Aprés
Stylish cocktails in the summer sunshine? Don’t mind if we do! TCé was recently invited to check out Aprés – a central London bar and cocktail lounge that’s just a hop, skip and jump from Selfridges – so it’s an ideal post-shopping destination or a great spot for rounding up the colleagues for after-work drinks. The food menu’s on point too and if the chilli smoked hot wings don’t satisfy your tastebuds, the various sliders certainly will. Compliments to the chef, we say! Stick around after 8pm to hear a DJ get the party started while we recommend the fruity candice or “Sharon Stone” cocktail to toast to the weekend. For more details, visit: www.apres-london.com . See pics from our recent visit below…
Somewhere you should go… Digital Revolution at Barbican
It’s fair to say that the world’s digital explosion in the last 40 years has been something like a phenomenon. Rapid, progressive and artistic all at the same time, we’ve seen it stretch across many facets of life and industries – and this generous show at the Barbican does its best to present as much of this under one roof.
Visitors are first met by retro games and inventions in the Digital Archaeology section. As the unmistakable ching-ching-ching of Sonic the Hedgehog collecting coins in the legendary platform game resonates around the room, there’s a chance to play Pong and Super Mario Bros and see the first website by Tim Berners-Lee. Walk further into the exhibition and you notice greater nods to technology in music (musos can feast their eyes on a Linn LM-1 drum machine), education (remember Speak & Spell?) film (Inception and Gravity get a look-in) and home computing, with screens showcasing old-school browsers like Netscape while you can see the development of Apple computers back when the corporation had a rainbow logo, and later spread some colour to the bulbous iMac G3.
And that’s just the beginning. You’ll spend hours admiring and playing with creative art as you experience commissioned works from a range of digital filmmakers, technicians, artists, fashion designers and musicians including willi.am. A graphic of the pop star towers over visitors like a modern day Pharoah in the State of Play section, watching you as you move and belting out a new track - autotuned, naturally – that he penned exclusively for the show. It’s kind of freaky but still impressive, like the rest of this mighty project that presents digital technology to creative extremes you simply couldn’t make up. And yet incredibly, some very clever people did.
On until 14th September. For tickets, visit the website.
Digital Revolution Trailer from Barbican Centre on Vimeo.
The @photographyldn summer school for teens returns this August! If you know any 13-16 year olds who love photography and want something to do during the holidays, visit www.bit.do/photosummerschool
Somewhere you should eat… Linnea Restaurant
It might be a slight trek for some to visit this relatively new restaurant near Kew Gardens, but after visiting last month we discovered it’s definitely worth it. Linnea is what you get when a Swedish-born chef with 20 years experience and a clear knack for perfection launches his very first restaurant. Everything is just exemplary – the beautiful decorations , interiors and exteriors (they’ve got a hidden garden), the attentive staff and their knowledge of wines, the flawless presentation of the food – and of course, the food itself. It’s got a Swedish-French theme going on, being both modern and fancy, and every dish we tried from the compact menu couldn’t fail to impress if it tried.
The May menu featured a remarkable roasted scallops with a carrot puree and cucumber and coriander salad for starters, and this was followed by the lamb rump, perfectly cooked and accompanied by confit potatoes and peas and broad beans. The mango and lime fool and strawberry ripple cheesecake were just as lovely for dessert and fingers crossed, they’ll appear on the menu for June. Three courses plus wine is roughly £45 a head, so double up a visit to Linnea with a trip to the nearby Kew Gardens and you’ve got yourself a lovely weekend, sorted.
For more details, visit: www.linneakew.co.uk See pics from our recent visit below!
TCé meets: Chef Rainer Becker, founder of Oblix
It’s been just over a year since chef Rainer Becker opened OBLIX in the European Union’s tallest building, but he admits the mission is not quite accomplished.
“It takes time for a restaurant to be there, where I have it in my head,” Becker said, sitting in a corner of the 32nd floor restaurant in the Shard – the London skyscraper that looks a bit like a castle from the “Lord of the Rings” films.
“I think the first step, we achieved. It’s busy and successful but there’s a lot of detail work to be done that most people don’t see, but I see.”
The award-winning, German-born chef opened OBLIX in May 2013 in a departure from the Japanese tradition of the iconic Zuma and renowned Roka restaurants that made him famous at the turn of the new millennium.
After training in Michelin-starred restaurants in Germany, his love for Japanese food was established when he lived in Tokyo for six years working at the Park Hyatt hotel. He moved to London in 2002 to open Zuma in Knightsbridge with business partner Arjun Waney.
The launch of OBLIX came after 11 years of rapidly expanding the Zuma and Roka brands across the globe, so the plan was to venture into New York-style urban dining that would offer Becker a lunchtime alternative.
“I eat too much Japanese food every day,” he said. “Japanese food is my passion because I lived in Japan. But I didn’t want to do a Japanese concept. I like simple food and New York is one of my favorite cities.”
“They have great restaurants and they’re very multicultural, like London. We said, ‘Let’s do something where you can’t pinpoint what we’re doing’, so it’s not American cuisine. Like London, there’s not really a London cuisine. It’s multicultural.”
On a weekday, the stylish restaurant, with its stunning views over the British capital, is buzzing with businessmen, tourists and young couples, including a famous footballer and his TV presenter girlfriend. It is a mixed clientele that Becker believes is one of the advantages of being based in the Shard.
“It’s a tourist attraction and a destination, so we have a very broad audience,” he said.
The menu has gone through a number of tweaks since the opening, although the flavorsome duck with mango chutney has become a signature dish. Another big draw is an interactive sommelier station which allows guests to try new and vintage wines and match it with their meals. Wine-tasting classes may become a larger part of the dining experience.
Becker says he has learned a few lessons since OBLIX opened, which have inspired the changes. This includes ironing out the teething problems before the critics experience the venue.
“Every restaurant opening is tough but a lesson is, ‘Don’t let the critics come in the first week’. How can you deliver a product in the first week to the best possible standard? We’re not machines, it’s all human beings,” he said.
“Guests come at the same time and then they wait half an hour for starter. That’s the way it is. But three or four weeks down the road, everything is much smoother.”
Despite the restaurant’s popularity, he said it’s too early to plan another one.
“I think it’s very unique to the Shard,” Becker said. “If there’s another building in a European city where you have similar aspects coming together, maybe there’s an opportunity.”
In the meantime, he’s working on planting another Roka in Aldwych in central London in September after opening one in February in the up-market Mayfair district.
He is also taking Zuma to New York and Abu Dhabi as he enjoys launching new venues, which he compares to the adrenaline rush he gets from car racing, one of his favourite pastimes.
“Besides cooking, I always love the aspect of understanding how (business) all functions and works together,” he said.
“When you expand you cannot do everything yourself anymore and naturally you have to look after the business aspect, probably more than the other aspects if you have the right people doing the other things. Then you grow more into that field. But the balance has to be right.”
With 14 restaurants under his belt by the end of year, he is also determined to keep the quality and experience of his restaurants as high as possible.
“The bottom line is, when you go to a restaurant you want to have a good time.”
This interview was first featured in Reuters on 17th June 2014.
Somewhere you should go… Manhattan Grill
You wouldn’t expect anything less than high-end when it comes to restaurants around Canary Wharf – and Manhattan Grill is the latest restaurant to live up to that philosophy. It’s a steakhouse but unlike those chains you get every block around the West End, MG offers a decadent experience that runs through the interiors right down to the prime cuts of meat which is their source of pride.
There’s a choice of Black Angus from Kansas if you want to keep things American or aged Scottish cuts that can also be matched with your pick of fabulous wines. As for sides, these are typical but tasty US fare such as delightful mac’n’cheese with lobster or the creamed spinach. For dessert, the apple crumble is as lovely as can be, although you might go for their take on a New York cheesecake. It’s a densely rich guilt trip that tastes better with each bite and serves as the worthy encore for a lovely night out. Expect to pay just over £100 for a 3-course meal for two with wine, so consider filing Manhattan Grill under “special occasions” – but it certainly won’t disappoint.
For more info, visit: www.manhattangrill.co.uk. Check out more pics from our recent visit below:
What we’ve been up to… Stylist Book Club presents: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When life gives you the opportunity to connect with one of the most remarkable writers of our time, you don’t waiver. Which is probably why just over a month ago, tickets for this exclusive event with the award-winning Chimamanda Adichie sold out within hours (while around 500 people tried their luck with the waiting list, according to organisers). Those fortunate enough to snag a ticket were sent a copy of her latest novel Americanah to read ahead of the glamorous evening at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel on 29th May.
Adichie’s third novel - which won the US National Book Critics Circle award earlier this year - uses love to masterfully explores race, immigration and identity and it’s just as beautiful and charming as its author. When the 36-year-old appeared on the stage with Stylist publishing director Glenda Marchant,we cheered, instagrammed and tweeted our delight. She read a short excerpt from the book and was interviewed by Marchant, before the audience got the chance to ask questions about everything from her writing process to her thoughts on Beyoncé, who sampled the author for her single Flawless. But many people simply wanted to thank Adichie, particularly one man who shared how the book helped him understand how to become a better father to his daughter.
The night was capped with Adichie signing books and taking pictures with her fans, proving that with all the right elements (stunning venue, wine, canapés) book clubs can be pretty fabulous: but landing a phenomenal author doesn’t hurt either, so well done Stylist!
Below are some of my favourite quotes from Adichie on the night:
On writing Americanah
“I know I wanted a love story. But I’m also suspicious of excessive happiness”
On the book’s lead character
“People have said they didn’t like Ifemelu. But what does it mean to be likeable? And how much does that deny you of who you are?”
On the representation of women in the novel
“Strong women are not remarkable to me – they’re normal”
On exploring mental health in the book and admitting to suffer from depression
“(Depression) is something (Africans) don’t have the language to talk about”
On Barack Obama
“There’s a thoughtfulness to him. There’s a liberal backlash I find it difficult to understand and I find it unfair. I find that anger has to do with a certain liberal entitlement”
On Beyoncé sampling Chimamanda’s Tedx Talk for her single Flawless
“Feminism is a party that isn’t exclusive. People should be allowed to define it for themselves”
Advice for aspiring writers
“Read, read, read. I’m not sure one can be a good writer without being a good reader. Read books you don’t like, at least one chapter. If you’re going to build a desk, it’s good to see what other carpenters have done”
“Tell your truth. We live in a world now that’s forcing you to conform”