Cover Image courtesy of Estro

Gourmeta hopes to revolutionise the way that fine dining restaurants work, beginning by virtually auctioning tables at Hong Kong's most acclaimed tables

NFTs haven't been around for long, and food-focused NFTs for an even shorter amount of time; but already the innovations in dining culture are coming thick and fast. While most food-related NFT projects have tread familiar ground, utilising the unique identifier of each NFT on the blockchain to grant exclusive rights to the owner like a loyalty program or membership to a physical club, one Hong Kong-based project looks to create an entirely new model of ultra-premium dining experiences made possible thanks to the metaverse.

Founded by Hong Kong-based blockchain venture capital firm Kenetic and UK-based sister digital asset company Ioconic, Gourmeta takes on the intersection of meme-friendly dining culture and the economics of securing a dinner reservation with its aim to tokenise culinary experiences in a way that allows people to “collect” memorable dinners.

“If you think about culinary experiences, they’re quite ephemeral—at best you get an iPhone photo or menu,” says Kenetic co-founder Jehan Chu.

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To this end, Gourmeta’s NFTs are a standardised way of collecting and gamifying meals at top restaurants by creating mementos of the experiences with celebrity chefs—a natural evolution of a cultural arc that began with names like Gordon Ramsay, Alain Ducasse, Pierre Gagnaire and the like.

Another one of Gourmeta’s ambitions is to increase the “linear and plateauing” earning potential of restaurants; under this model, one day is reserved each month to host NFT owners for a special one-off dinner at the most coveted restaurants in town. The catch? Owners must bid on the tables using the Ethereum cryptocurrency, with each auction starting below the retail price of a tasting menu—but with the potential to quickly balloon to astronomic prices. 

So far, Gourmeta has partnered with Hong Kong’s JIA Group for its first NFT collection. In the month of May alone, bidders will be able to vie for one-time dinner sessions with bespoke menus at the likes of Estro, Andō and Mono, with the first auction taking place on April 25th. The project has plans to expand globally by the end of the year and beyond.

“It allows people willing to pay more to do it, if they can afford it, in the same way that you compete for a Beeple NFT,” explains Chu, referring to a series of virtual artworks by American artist Mike Winkelmann that regularly auction for record-setting amounts in the tens of millions of dollars. “It’s a way of supporting restaurants, the artisan craft that really reflects the value that some people are willing to put on it.”


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