Luna Thissen

Exploring Canine Cuisine

Insights from a unique dog dining experience

Over the course of two months, Mediamatic organized twelve dinners for which we invited dogs and their human companions to explore new interspecies traditions by sharing a four course dinner. I have worked on the project from its conceptualization until the last dinner of this series. It has been an eventful time. Challenges were definitely unleashed and many lessons learned. In this blog post I will share with you some personal insights that I have obtained as one of the main organizers of the event.

by Luna Thissen


Dog dinner - Jiyoung Lee

Spatial Challenges
For the dog dinners we aimed to transform Mediamatic’s Haeckel Room into a space that could accommodate both human and canine attendees. Regular dinner tables made way for a communal table that we lowered to ground level. I say ‘aimed’, because both seating arrangements as the room itself has posed some difficulties. The most important insight that can be taken from this is the challenge of different packs eating together. This element went against the nature of our canine participants, which at times led to tension rising in the confined space that the Haeckel room has to offer. 

Luckily the Mediamatic playground offers various possibilities, so the dinners could possibly migrate to a different space, such as the Serre Separées. This transition could possibly lead to a reduction of inter-group conflicts. In this case, the dinner will no longer be communal, but will provide the different packs with their own space in one of our tiny green houses. The execution of new test dinners will hopefully show if the Serre Sepparées provide enough space for one family pack to have a comfortable dinner experience. 

Furry Gastronomy 
The kitchen team adeptly adapted the customary 4-course menu to accommodate our canine guests. Dogs use different techniques in consuming food, which asks for special attention to the plating of the dishes. Some formats of the dishes proved to be challenging for our four-legged guests. Future menu adaptations should be mindful of the distinctive needs of canine diners. 

Serving Dogs
A significant challenge pertains to the service staff overseeing these gatherings. Staff members expressed discomfort due to the proximity of food service to our canine participants, particularly in light of past conflict between dogs, but also between a human and their dog. The shift to the Serres not only enhances physical separation between the dogs but also between service staff and the canine participants. 

Effective communication
A notable lesson involves the mode of communication. Despite digital communications, pre-event information sharing, and welcome speeches, participant comprehension of the project remains a challenge. Human participants are simply not very thorough in reading information about an event they have paid a considered amount of money for, which to me was quite surprising. The welcome speech has proven to be most effective, but further research could benefit from investigating how important information can be transferred onto our human participants before the start of the event. This could benefit their decision-making when considering if this event is the right fit for their dogs. 

In summation, the project has been quite a rollercoaster. The biggest success was seeing the enthusiasm from our participants. On a personal note, it has made me more secure in trusting my own skills and judgment. As the journey continues, Mediamatic is committed to refining these events to the benefit of both human and canine participants. Stay tuned for future installments, as this unique culinary journey evolves and matures.