Most everyone has experienced the power of food in some way. It doesn’t just nourish us, it can calm us, excite us, and bring us together with others. It can provide comfort, a sense of accomplishment, and so many other feelings. Who better would know about the connection that we have with food other than one of the biggest food companies in the world, Kraft Heinz. One of the products under their ownership is Philadelphia Cream Cheese, a creamy goodness that is fully capable of eliciting feelings out of people. Thus, a question was asked. Could it be possible to make a restaurant where people could order not just food, but feelings?
It might seem like an odd question at first, but think about how we talk about food. When we ask others or ourselves about food we use phrases like, “What do you feel like?” Or, “What are you in the mood for?” This goes beyond just the sensation of hunger. After all, if we just needed to sate hunger, we’d eat anything. Instead we often want our food to be something more than just that, we want it to fill some sort of desire in us. As for cream cheese though, perhaps the immediate thought is to combine it with a bagel, but in truth we use it for more than just that.
Outside of using it as a spread, we have frostings based on cream cheese with put on carrot and red velvet cakes. We use cream cheese in dips, in cheesecake itself, in pasta dishes and fillings, and a variety of other places. But generally we associate it with a sense of decadence; you may remember the heavenly commercials of the mid ’90s that quite literally took place amongst the heavens.
So the plan began falling into place; make a pop-up restaurant with Philadelphia Cream Cheese based dishes where the menu items were based off of feelings that people could order in place of traditional fare. It would take some talented chefs to pull this experiment off though; enter Jeremiah Stone and Fabián Von Hauske Valtierra. Together they are the head chefs and owners of the Michelin star awarded restaurants of Contra and Wildair. Their shared experience has led to awards in creativity, published cookbooks, and now, a chance to create an entirely different type of dining experience.
Across three nights from July 14th to July 16th, diners in New York City had the opportunity to experience “Feeladelphia.” This three-hour dining event was $35.00 per person, with all the proceeds going to charity; another element of making people feel positive things. Here at Nerdbot, New York City was a bit too far away for some of us to get too, but thanks to some help from the Feeladelphia team, we were able to see what the menu had in store for those who attended and some of the reactions to the unique experience.
When you order feelings, you’re putting your faith in the hands of the chefs, that whatever they’re preparing is going to live up to not just what you want to taste, but what you want to feel. When you look at something like “Satisfaction” a short rib, beef tonuge, brisket infused with cream cheese to make it more of a “cheesesteak.” As those who love meat can attest to, there are few things more satisfying than a perfectly prepared piece of brisket.
Or maybe you weren’t just looking for satisfaction; maybe given the opportunity being presented, you were looking to see what would be more of an alluring taste to draw you into the moment. In that case, to “Allure” you, the chefs had prepared something special, including black truffles, confit garlic, and regalis kaluga caviar. If you’re not familiar with those terms, to confit something is to cook it slowly in oil or grease but not at a high enough temperature to fry it. Regalis meanwhile is a food company with kaluga being a specific type of caviar. And when you blend all those things together under the work of expert chefs, you get the alluring results below.
Obviously when it comes to food, everyone’s palate is going to vary, but the feedback from the three nights of “Feeladelphia” was overwhelmingly positive. Two of the more popular feelings were the previously mentioned “Satisfaction” and “Warmth” which came courtesy of fried pasta which combined the taste of Philadelphia Cream Cheese alongside gruyere and Comté cheese. But other feelings were also well received such as the “Playfulness” that came from the decadence that you might expect from cream cheese, strawberry curd and chocolate mousse; a taste that brought at least one diner, “back to my childhood.”
Now that the “Feeladelphia” experience is over, where do things go from here? Well even if you missed out on the live event, you may get to cook up some feelings of your own thanks to the The Feeladelphia Cookbook: An Immersive Experience. It’s a one of a kind cookbook that that is meant to engage all the senses. Not only do you read it, but some of the pages are edible while others are scented or include “curated sonic experiences.” It’s the next best thing to being at the live event and will give you a chance to experience feelings not just through enjoying food, but preparing it as well. You can place an order for the immersive cookbook via the official website, conveniently named The Feeladelphia Cook Book.
If there’s one product that probably doesn’t need an advertising push, it’s Philadelphia Cream Cheese; everyone knows about it. When you go into a store your cream cheese options tend to either be whatever the generic store brand is, or Philadelphia. This is one of the few times where an event from a big name company feels like it’s more than just a gimmick; this was a culinary experiment unique unto itself. Can you order feelings and not just food? Prior to this it might have been an absurd, Kafkaesque question.
Based on the menu, event, and feedback though, perhaps it’s not so absurd after all, and the answer is yes.