The Kitchen at Bacchanalia
Copywriting / Brand Strategy / Brand Voice
The story of how a boozy brunch venue transformed into a Michelin Star-winning temple de cuisine.
Singapore-based fine dining restaurant Bacchanalia had an identity problem. It began life as a boozy brunch venue, complete with bottle service and loud techno music. But along the way they picked up a brilliant head chef, Ivan Brehm, who’d worked at restaurants like Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.
As they prepared to relocate to a new, smaller venue, they faced a dilemma. Was Bacchanalia a fine dining restaurant or a place for raucous revelry? And if they were a fine dining restaurant, what sort of cuisine did they serve? The chefs had an inspired vision, but nobody outside the kitchen seemed to understand it.
Inkstains and ingredient stains aren't so different.
Cooking is an expression of soul. My job was to translate that soul into words. I spent hours in Bacchanalia’s kitchen, learning about the chefs’ brilliant, eclectic culinary worldview.
Their philosophy of fine dining was more geeky than posh. It embraced local farming and global techniques: Japanese fishmongering skills rubbed shoulders with French haute-cuisine, molecular gastronomy and more. They brought these diverse ingredients and techniques to the kitchen table, remixing them with respect and innovation.
It was inspiring. I rolled up my sleeves, and tried to put as much love into the copy as Chef Brehm’s team did into their cuisine. It took lots of late-night text messages (chefs and writers both work late), but we finally got somewhere.
We distilled these complex culinary influences into a simple story that people on both sides of Bacchanalia’s counter could understand. After all, the new restaurant space was an open kitchen, with no boundary between chef and diner. A space where cooking and eating were two aspects of the same act: an act of reconnection, realization and revelry.
Bacchanalia: an intimate kitchen inspired by the world.
I wrote hundreds of lines until I arrived at a brand positioning, and wrote manifestos for both the front and back of house. Now, when people asked “What sort of restaurant are you?”, Bacchanalia finally had an answer: an intimate kitchen inspired by the world.
The rebranding exercise was a huge hit. Critics and foodies raved about the restaurant, rechristened “The Kitchen at Bacchanalia”. The Kitchen at Bacchanalia went on to win a Michelin Star in its first year of business, marking it as one of the world’s finest restaurants.