You love it for spa days, haircuts, staycations and decadent meals – but what about magic? Hong Kong’s most iconic hotel is hosting legendary illusionist Stefan Leyshon for his Asian debut next month. The Frenchman will be performing his Dîner Secret (co-created with Katell Sevestre), a completely immersive evening of magic, for one night only.
For the uninitiated, Leyshon is one of the world’s premiere illusionists. He was admitted to the French ‘Magic Circle’ at just 14 years old, and has gone on to impress and amaze since then. He draws his inspiration from the masters of the late 1800s and early 1900s, like Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin and Georges Méliès, but reimagines their classic work for today.
It seems an unlikely pairing – a luxury hotel and an illusionist – but Leyshon knows better. “It’s an experience that has to be lived in a ballroom, in a luxury hotel, with food, nice wine, nice champagne, nice people. It’s intimate, like a club. And of course, it’s a dinner,” he tells me from inside one of the hotel’s suites.
Food is a crucial element to his performance, it allows for an added layer of luxury and of course, fun. The hotel’s executive chef Robin Zavou has been tasked with the menu, a decadent three-course meal that winds its way from the traditional to the sublime. He crafted the evening’s dishes around Leyshon’s idea, without ever having seen the show. He imagines it as a cabaret. “It’s not like Moulin Rouge, it’s not saucy, but it has this feeling of going to an event.” He stresses the last work, making it clear just how dramatic the night would be. People don’t dress up anymore, but for this, they will. “Evening jackets, cocktail dresses – like you’re going out on the town in an old-fashioned style. It’s very classic.” To match the atmosphere, he’s opted for sumptuous and opulent ingredients like Wagyu beef, caviar, foie gras and truffle.
It’s a delicate dance between kitchen and performer for an evening like this. “What we’re trying to do is create a meal that will create a lasting memory,” he explains from the hotel’s intimate Krug Room, “but the meal is the side part of the event – we want to enhance and complement the show, not overshadow it."
All of the tricks on the night are exclusive to the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and have never been seen before. They will all be performed in the centre of the room, on a small transparent disc, allowing the audience full view of the illusionist. There’s no room to hide here, which will make illusions like the floating lady, that much more magical. Though he won’t give anything away, he did introduce a few of his illusions – you can see more on our Instagram stories now @hashtag_legend.
While Leyshon draws inspiration from the past, he also has a keen interest on the future: namely, technology. “Magicians and scientists are visionaries,” he says, “Before there were magicians, there were the philosophers, who spent their days imagining what could be.” Soon, those ideas became realities: computers, space travel, even virtual reality. Leyshon continues this tradition with a humanoid robot named Nao. “He has 26 sensors and he can interact with me and the audience. We talk a lot about artificial intelligence, and emotional intelligence, but not intuition. That for me, is the next great intelligence. I’m trying to experiment with that with my robot.”
Dîner Secret promises to be an enchanting evening, book tickets now to reserve your space. Dîner Secret premiers on June 8, 2018 at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. The three-course menu is priced at HK$2,888 per adult, including a wine pairing, and HK$2,188 per child including free-flow soft drinks and juices. For more information see here, and for reservations, please email [email protected]