Last night I experienced ‘a world of pure imagination’.
In honour of this monthâs 40th anniversary of the film âCharlie And The Chocolate Factoryâ creative confectioners Bombas & Parr, known for their spectacular culinary events, launched the worldâs first walk-through chocolate waterfall.
The installation flows with five tonnes of chocolate at a rate of 12,000 litres an hour and I went along to the preview event before it opens to the public for just four days this Easter weekend, under the atrium at Whiteleyâs shopping centre in Bayswater, London.
Sam Bombas says the waterfall â tickets for which sold out in advance – is a thing of âwonder and beautyâ and explores the relationship between sight, smell and taste.
The chocolate waterfall experience begins with visitors being ushered through a pink and purple arch into a low-lit, pink-tinged room adorned with bubble-like objects.
Here we were issued with protective suits and booties and sent forward into a room filled with (another world first) a cloud of breathable chocolate; so thick it was you could barely see your hand in front of your face.
The technology for the cloud was developed by Bombas & Parr in association with CASE, the Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine.
Emerging from the cloud, one at a time, we walked onto a bridge over a chocolate river into which the waterfall gushes; the flowing mixes the chocolate-y concoction with hints of plum and red wine.
And as Willy Wonka says, mixing by waterfall is âthe only way if you want it just rightâ.
Stepping off the end of the bridge brings visitors into the installationâs processing unit where we were invited to pour our own bottle of chocolate elixir from a tap piped directly from the waterfall.
Before sealing the bottle of concentrated chocolate cordial, we could customize it by blending in flavours such as lavender, jasmine, frankincense or juniper.
After 48 hours infusing the elixir would be ready to make chocolate flavoured milk drinks at home.
With pink and gold-labeled bottle in hand, we shed our protective gear, and were thrust back into reality and the bright lights of the shopping centre.
My first thought upon exiting was that perhaps my expectations had been too high going in â while I wasnât intending to do an Augustus Gloop and jump into the chocolate river – I was hoping to get closer to the waterfall, walk under its flow, rather than view it from a bridge.
But, on reflection, I realise that it is the closest anyone is likely to get to the imaginary chocolate factory of Willy Wonka, and it certainly was a sight and sensory experience to behold.
Pictures by Alex Sterling and Amy Freeborn