Dining in absolute darkness: a sensory experience that sparks a re-evaluation of your perception of taste and smell; a human experience where the visually-impaired become your guide; a social experience that fosters togetherness and frees inhibitions; a franchise that’s served over 1 million customers around the world; and the first restaurant of its kind to open in Africa.
“Dans le Noir,” or Dinner in the Dark, is a Parisian company that just opened its newest location in Nairobi, Kenya. The restaurant, Gizani (Swahili for “in the dark”), invites patrons to dine in a pitch black room with a staff of 12 visually impaired as their guides. Abdul Kamara, a blind lawyer from Sierra Leone, is running the Nairobi franchise. He said that, “training 12 individuals to be professionals in the hospitality industry,” will get them far. In a country where unemployment among the blind is 98% (as opposed to 75% here in the US), twelve jobs is significant for those who would otherwise be entirely dependent on their families. Not to mention, the role reversal of being the guide and not the guided is incredibly empowering.
The experience upon entering Gizani (located inside the Tribe Hotel) starts with a conga line, where customers are guided into the darkness to their tables. Then, meals are served as such: meat dishes on round plates, vegetarian on square. Your sense of taste and smell are immediately heightened by the weakened sense of sight. Patrons–expected to be expats, Kenyan professionals, embassy staff and U.N. workers–can taste every note of the carefully crafted dishes on chef Olivier Romain’s menu and oenology expert, Christophe Garnier’s wine list.
An interesting experience and jobs for people who would have a very difficult time finding work? We’re all for it.
Steph is a native New Yorker with a love of culture, creativity, and communications. She’s a foodie, nutrition junkie, yogi, wine-lover, bookworm, world traveler, style-addict, and people person. She also runs her event planning company, Orchard + Broome.