Beyonce’s “Lemonade” transformed from album to dining experience

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Beyonce’s “Lemonade” album is being transformed into a dining experience for a student’s senior capstone project.

By Sam Schrage, Staff writer

“Y’all Haters Corny Muffins with Texas Bama Butter” and “Paparazzi, Catch My Fly and My Cocky Crawfish Étouffée,” aren’t on a traditional creole menu, but they’re standard dishes at Savia Gordon’s “Lemonade” themed dining event.

“Beyoncé’s Lemonade: The Dining Experience” will take place from 5 – 7 p.m. on Friday at the student-run Spice Box restaurant in Bevier Hall. The dinner is part of Gordon’s senior capstone project for Spice Box and will serve 155 people. The dishes will specialize in creole food — a spicy type of food originating in Louisiana.

Gordon, senior in ACES, said what sets her capstone project apart from her peers’ projects is its theme. Not only are the menu items inspired by Beyoncé’s album, but the decorations and interactive dining experience are as well. Each window sill will incorporate a different theme from Beyoncé’s visual album, allowing attendees to experience every aspect of the album.

“When I was picking a theme, I didn’t want it to just be over a cultural food,” Gordon said. “I got the idea from my internship at the Illini Union Hotel when I was shadowing one of the employees for the day. Once I began brainstorming ideas for the menu and decorations that were inspired from her music videos, it all tied together.”

“Lemonade” does not just showcase Beyoncé’s music, it also represents her as a fierce and bold role model.

“I think the theme is really unique and fun,” Jamie Elekman, senior in ACES, wrote in an email. “Most of our meals are places or genres of food, so it is refreshing to have someone do a meal about an album and very iconic singer-songwriter. Beyoncé is a role model who is very bold, and her album accents her character.”

However, the theme would not be possible if it were not for Gordon herself, who had to interpret “Lemonade” and transform it into a tangible experience.

“In terms of ‘Lemonade’ being relevant to Savia’s meal, I think what ties it all together is Savia herself. This meal is as artistic as the album because its Savia’s interpretation of the album through food,” Samantha Donovan, senior in ACES, wrote in an email.

The dinner would not be possible without the help from Gordon’s classmates in her Management of Fine Dining class.

In the days leading up the dinner, Gordon’s classmates do anything from preparing food to making decorations. Both the production manager and service manager serve as Gordon’s strongest team members and work to make sure everything runs smoothly in the front and back of the restaurant.

“As production manager, it is my job to assign tasks to everyone working in the kitchen. I work with Savia and her guest chef on deciding how the food will be prepared, where it will be stored and where it will be served on the night of the meal,” Donovan wrote.

The senior capstone project is meant to simulate what it is like to plan an event and be in charge of a restaurant for a night.

“It’s kind of like living out the future you want for yourself. I want to go into the restaurant industry so this is great planning and preparation for that,” Gordon said.

The Hospitality Management program gives students a background in many different aspects of the food industry and allows them to start building up real-life experience.

“My major taught me a lot about fine dining, the food industry, service and how to work with people in the best way possible,” Gordon said. “I think because we are taught so strictly on how to implement it through Spice Box, it helps prepare us for our future careers.”

Elekman said teamwork is one of the most important concepts within hospitality management, from working with fellow employees to working with valued customers.

After graduation, Gordon hopes to open her own restaurant and lounge, where a wide range of events from casual parties to weddings can be held. This comes as no surprise to Gordon’s family, considering their past in the food and restaurant industry.

“I’ve always been into cooking. I think ever since I was six or seven years old, I was always into cookbooks that my mom would buy me,” Gordon said. “It was always in my nature, and I was inspired by my dad who is a chef. Cooking has always been in my family, and I want to continue the tradition.”

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