Dark dining a unique experience

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Natalie Robert of Chatham, right, and Colleen King of Pain Court enjoyed their sensory deprivation while at the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent Dining in the Dark fundraiser Thursday evening at Aristo’s Banquet Room in Chatham. Almost $7,000 was raised to purchase therapy equipment and service enhancements for children with sensory challenges.
Natalie Robert of Chatham, right, and Colleen King of Pain Court enjoyed their sensory deprivation while at the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent Dining in the Dark fundraiser Thursday evening at Aristo’s Banquet Room in Chatham. Almost $7,000 was raised to purchase therapy equipment and service enhancements for children with sensory challenges.

Dining is an experience where all your senses come into play – the smell, sight, flavours and textures.

But just for fun at home, try blindfolding yourself and sit down to eat a full-course meal that includes prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, veggies and roasted potatoes. Then try to eat what you hope is a potato without it falling in your lap.

Dining in the Dark, a unique new fundraiser for the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent, gave patrons a chance to experience dinner while blindfolded, and judging by the laughter and groans as people tried to hit their mouths, it was a blinding success. The event was also a financial success, surpassing its $5,000 goal by more than $2,000.

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More than 100 people packed Aristo’s Banquet Hall in Chatham Thursday night to dine in the dark, bid on silent auction items and find out what it’s like to be deprived of just one sense. Children the treatment centre serves with sensory challenges deal with one or more every day, and thanks to fundraising done by the Foundation, get the therapy they need.

Once we were at our table after checking out the silent auction items, we were asked to put our blindfolds on begin with a salad course. Hearing became more acute as people tried to stab their plate and hit lettuce. Some folks were more successful with the shovel technique, but it did make for a nice mess. So far, my lap and cleavage were clear.

Trying to find my wine glass without knocking it over was also fun, and I managed to grope and hold the hands of the people next to me. Thankfully, they were my co-workers and people I don’t mind holding hands with. Not weird at all.

The wait staff did an excellent job of warning us when our main course was coming and thus avoided flying elbows. The dinner was excellent, but I admit that not knowing what you were trying to cut with your knife and then stab with your folk made you a little leery when putting it in your mouth. I actually didn’t recognize the texture of the potato which registered before the taste of it.

The only dicey moment was when I shoveled a piece of fat (which all excellent cuts of prime rib come with) into my mouth,. Not my finest moment when I spat it onto my plate, so it was a good thing everyone was blindfolded.

Flavours and sounds (it sounded like we were yelling at each other) were much more intense, and MC Greg Hetherington’s voice sounded even deeper, which I thought was impossible.

A Spirit Tasting table for patrons was a new twist as well. People paid $5 to do a blind taste test of three different flavoured liquors and if they guessed the flavours right, were entered in a draw. Those efforts raised $175 and tarot card reader Cynthia Bolwig donated the cash she was given to do readings to the Foundation.

A pre-dinner show featuring the treatment centre’s Black Light Troupe was one of the highlights, plus a discussion with Ashley Srokosz regarding doTerra essential oils and our sense of smell.

Foundation executive director Art Stirling thanked fundraising co-ordinator Shelby Sanchuk for the idea and Foundation board director Sarah Regnier for their hard work in making the night a success.

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