Miami’s Hidden Worlds Immersive Dinner Pop-Up Takes Guests Virtually U…

Imagine indulging in a lavish dinner underwater. Sea creatures are swimming around you as you dine, however you manage to stay safe and dry.

That’s what the Hidden Worlds pop-up seeks to simulate when it opens in Miami Beach on May 20. The pop-up, which runs by June 20, will turn the Rudolf Budja Gallery into an immersive (pun intended) experience designed to proportion the beauty of the world’s oceans and to warn of the perils their inhabitants confront.

The pop-up has been designed in cooperation with Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau, grandchildren of famed oceanic explorer Jacques Cousteau, along with Hidden Worlds CEO Daniel Hettwer.

During the day, visitors can immerse themselves in a 40-minute virtual journey under the sea. In the evenings, the pop-up becomes an interactive dinner. Chef Scott Linquist of Coyo Taco and Como Como explains that when he was contacted to design an ecologically friendly multicourse meal, he didn’t realize what he was getting into. “I had to start doing research,” he says. “The evening is fun and informational, but at its heart, it’s a serious project.”

Linquist says he had to delve thorough to come up with menu items that represent the ocean and are also sustainable — including invasive species. “That gives you a very small window of items to work with,” he says. “As a chef, I had to wrap my head around how I could develop a menu. It’s hugely challenging, but it’s also inspiring.”

As a chef and restaurateur, Linquist is accustomed to a certain autonomy in creating a menu. This time, however, he had to have all items approved for their sustainability. He quickly learned that most seafood — already items that come from sustainable fisheries — have a negative impact on the ecosystem. Other fish, such as the dramatically but hazardous-to-coral-reefs lionfish, are too difficult to source for consistent, daily dinner service.

To assist in his quest for elements, Linquist turned to Ronald Roelans, owner of Legend Seafood Inc. in Miami Lakes. “He has been a meaningful partner in sourcing all the products and helping me find things that he doesn’t typically bring to Miami,” the chef says of Roelans.

Among other valuable lessons, Linquist learned that bivalves are considered “ocean positive.”

“They have a filter system that brings in their food and filters out clean water,” the chef explains, noting that his Hidden Worlds menu will incorporate clams, oysters, and abalone. Linquist says he also intends to use vegetables, seaweeds, and fish that are threatening to become invasive species, such as wild cobia.

Linquist will also work with purple sea urchin, which he says is invasive, along with a green crab he’s getting from a marine biologist in the northeast. He’ll also use fish bones and other typically discarded parts for stock and sauces.

Linquist says that each dinner is limited to 32 guests, who will start with a welcome drink before being seated at a table shaped like a giant X. (The dinner includes cocktail pairings by Chat Chow TV founder Gio Gutierrez, who will also incorporate the sea into his libations.) Each course will be accompanied by a different “scene” rendered by images, sound, and already vibration, starting with the Everglades. “People don’t understand that the Everglades is one of the most important ecosystems in the world,” Linquist says. “The videography is amazing.”

When the meal is over, another door slides open, and guests are invited to hang out “under the sea” and enjoy a postprandial cocktail or two.

Linquist says his research has made him think about how he supplies seafood for his restaurants, although he admits that operating a restaurant within the 100 percent sustainable parameters would be impossible.

“It has opened my mind a lot,” says the chef. “Most chefs are gluttonous and we want to create with everything. I was very aware of sustainability, but this is taking everything to the next level. I am going to think a lot harder about where we get our food.”

Hidden Worlds Dinner. 8 p.m. nightly from May 20 to June 20 at Rudolf Budja Gallery. 1330 18th St., Miami Beach. Three-hour immersive eight-course, ocean-positive dinner and cocktails cost $250. Daytime experience (show only) costs $26-32 (times vary). For tickets visit

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