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    "The JOYÀ dinner experience should be as enjoyable – and surprising – as the show itself. It should feel like you are eating part of the show." – Alexis Bostelmann, Vidanta corporate chef.

Like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the magically surreal stories of Gabriel García Márquez, things are rarely as they seem inside the Cirque du Soleil Theater – especially at the dinner table. Here, heavenly desserts hide inside giant library books. Caviar is made from fruit. Breadsticks, like bonsai trees, grow from their bowls. And it is perfectly normal for you to tip your dinner menu into salsa and take a bite. The three-course JOYÀ dinner tempts every sense with culinary wonders as spectacular as the Theater, music, and performances of JOYÀ. It is the first dining experience of any Cirque du Soleil production and another tasty step on an unforgettable journey. So, if the Cirque du Soleil Theater and its immaculate grounds are where you begin your journey into the world of JOYÀ, then the dinner experience is where you cross the threshold into the truly fantastic. The new aromas, tastes, and sights of the gourmet meal fully immerse you in the magic of the moment. JOYÀ takes you on a wild journey where you meet new characters and see things that only happen in dreams. The JOYÀ dinner takes you on another trip – this one mouthwatering – through the rich culinary history of Mexico, bite by bite.

Inspiration with Audacity

If you’ve ever vacationed at a Vidanta destination, then you’ve tasted the culinary gifts of Chef Alexis Bostelmann. Chef Alexis leads a team of executive chefs, sous chefs, pastry chefs, butchers, and kitchen assistants responsible for the incredible dining experiences at over 120 restaurants at the Vidanta destinations across Mexico. His training began in his parents’ kitchen in Mexico City. He then traveled the world, cooking for celebrities and heads of state, then returned home to Mexico and Vidanta, where his menu and presentations for the JOYÀ dinner have garnered accolades from food critics and audiences alike. To create the unforgettable dinner loved by so many, Chef Alexis explored traditional and modern cooking techniques and found inspiration in the geography of Mexico, the culinary heritage of the Yucatan, and the story of JOYÀ. When asked about his goal for the JOYÀ dinner experience, his answer is simple, “I want to surprise the audience.”

Vidanta Corporate Chef Alexis Bostelmann and his team combine traditional Mexican flavors with modern cooking methods to create the exquisite dishes on the Joya dinner menu. The flavors of the Maya dance on the palate with herbs like Chaya and epazote, xcatic and habanero peppers, annatto, pumpkin seeds, mole-inspired sauces, and bright citrus. Special culinary styles open up a whole new world of taste and texture for dinner guests – liquid nitrogen is used to make the Dragon Breath, and molecular techniques are used to create melon caviar and other edible oddities.

Chef Alexis and Cirque du Soleil wanted to create the feeling that the dinner was an extension of the show – Mexican artists created the plates and food presentation elements to match the JOYÀ set. But like the JOYÀ show, the dinner menu is in constant transformation. So, the dishes you enjoyed once before will be different when you return. But they will always be delicious.

A Most Magical Meal

  • THE PLANNING – The Joya dinner had to be as unexpected and memorable as the performances themselves, and it had to be delicious. This was, after all, Cirque du Soleil’s first production to include food. Vidanta’s Corporate Chef, AleisBostelmann, worked closely with executives from Vidanta and Cirque du Soleil for over a year before the show opened to create the menu and to design a kitchen that could support such an incredible culinary experience. After experimenting with hundreds of dishes and presentations, the menu was set. But executing the JOYÀ dinner would prove to be the greatest challenge Chef Alexis and his team at Vidanta had ever faced.

  • THE SERVICE - Each night, the three-course JOYÀ dinner is served to almost 60 guests (twice if there are two show times) in less than 45 minutes, with full wait service before and during the show. To efficiently and safely serve food and drinks among actors and acrobats who often perform in the aisles and on top of tables, the dinner staff routinely rehearses with the cast and crew. “This took an incredible team because what is normally possible in a standard restaurant isn’t as easy to do from the belly of a strangely shaped theater,” Chef Alexis notes, “so timing is everything.”

  • THE TIMETLINE – A dedicated team of nearly 100 chefs, waiters, bussers, and bartenders work throughout the day to prepare for the dinner service.
    • 7:00am – The tapas prep cooks arrive and prepare 1,200 tapas servings
    • 9:00am – At the Vidanta resort kitchen, breads are baked, desserts made, and meat trimmed. Chefs and cooks arrive and start preparation for dinner, sear and braise meat, prepare dehydrated veggies, and begin slow-cooked items.
    • 12:00pm – The staff arrives starts preparation of fruits and vegetables.
    • 1:00pm – Breads, deserts, supplies, and staff meal are transported to the Theater
    • 2:00pm – Staff enjoys lunch
    • 4:00pm – Appetizer plating begins.
    • 4:30pm – Waiters set up tables with glasses and flatware
    • 5:00pm – All food preparation is complete
    • 6:00pm – Plating of tapas and the dessert book
    • 7:00pm – Bread basket set up
    • 7:30pm – Entrée plating begins
    • 7:45pm – Theater doors open for VIP guests.
    • 7:50pm - Appetizer and tapas served; Dragon Breath given to guests.
    • 8:00pm – Waiters take entrée orders
    • 8:20pm – Entrée served
    • 8:30pm – Dessert served
    • 9:30pm – Tables cleared and kitchen cleaned
    • 11:00pm to 7:00am – Deep cleaning of kitchen

Menu Highlights

  • MERCIER CHAMPAGNE – When one takes an extraordinary journey to magical worlds, one must stay hydrated. Because experiencing JOYÀ is an event worth celebrating, champagne was the beverage of choice. After a number of tastings, the Vidanta team felt that Moet &Chandon’s Mercier Brut Champagne was the only bubbly worthy of the JOYÀ experience. It has a soft sweetness, delicate bubbles, and a clean finish. This variety of Mercier Brut can only be found in France and at the Cirque du Soleil Theater at Vidanta Riviera Maya.

  • DRAGON BREATH – Another playful surprise waiting for JOYÀ dinner guests is Dragon Breath, an amuse-bouche made tableside with freeze-dried tropical fruits quickly dipped in liquid nitrogen. As you eat it, your breath condenses and steam billows from your nose like a dragon. This is a bite to remember!

  • THE BOOK OF DESSERTS – The passing of knowledge is one of JOYÀ’s central themes, and the classic symbol of knowledge, the book, is seen many times throughout the show and set. And in dessert. One of the more memorable moments for dinner guests is when they receive their dessert box. Uniquely crafted for JOYÀ, the dessert boxes are large books that open to reveal a quartet of delectable desserts.

The JOYÀ gastronomic experience sets the stage, as it were, for diners to experience the performance collectively in the spirit of the Mayan greeting “In Lak’ech Ala K’in” (which means “I am you and you are me”), which speaks of unity and oneness.

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