Culinary experimentalists Sam Bompas and Harry Parr and their 20-strong team have launched a new bespoke catering business
How Bompas & Parr have evolved from jellymakers to experiential chiefs
London-based Bompas & Parr may have started out by creating craft jelly, but it has rapidly expanded into a fully-fledged creative studio offering food and drink design. Its latest venture is a catering division specialising in multisensory experiential events. Sam Bompas explains why the company is branching out.
What fascinates you about food in general, and the crossover with experiential design in particular?
Well, we swiftly learnt that if you slap a jelly on the table, everyone smiles and shares some nostalgic tale. But to approach the scale we sought, we had to work on designing complete experiences around the jelly, addressing all the senses and borrowing from disciplines beyond the realm of the culinary. This included architecture, biochemistry, magic, toxicology, engineering, psychology and pyrotechnics. In each case the different disciplines are orchestrated to generate a specific emotional response – much like slapping a jelly on the table!
Can you give a couple of great examples that sum up your approach?
We really push for maximal intensity of experience and ambition. and then try to reflect on what we’ve learnt. Past examples of work include cooking with lava at 1,350 degrees Celsius, creating a walk-in cloud of G&T that intoxicates through the lungs and eyeballs, and a 200-course meal with dishes dropping every 7 minutes and 14 seconds for 24 hours.
Talk us through the thinking behind your new catering business....
The new business means that anyone can commission a Bompas & Parr feast. Some of the party pieces we can bring to your house are pretty affordable, including a whisky tornado and Champagne bubble machine. Each case has involved a host of work and research with academics and experts but more than that, it’s fun.
How does your in-house catering department operate?
We have about 40 or so projects on the go at any one time, being delivered at a rate of a couple a week. So a six-month lead time is tremendous, but by no means necessary. We can turn relatively complex logistical challenges around in days. Last year we built a bar entirely staffed by mermen mixologists in Westfield with just five weeks from the brief to going live. So if you’re thinking of something epic for your Christmas party, there’s still time…
To what extent is the service bespoke?
We have a set menu but this is really for inspiration; for the most part we develop something fresh each time.
How was your launch event received?
The Feast of Flowers was a total sensory assault of floriography. From sipping welcome shots from carnivorous plants, to a finale of Perrier-Jouët edible bubbles, there were scores of gustatory pleasures. www.bompasandparr.com
Dynamic culinary duo Bompas & Parr are no strangers to theatrical showmanship, from producing a walk-in cloud of gin and tonic to cooking with lava.