The Argus: fringe_2011_logo_red_thumbWhen restaurateurs talk of “food as theatre”, they are often referring to the giant serving hatch they have cut into the wall, which allows diners to see their meals being prepared.

When it comes to culinary geniuses Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, they have taken that concept literally, with a series of stunning foodie events, ranging from creating a breathable gin and tonic cloud to flooding a building with punch.

“We’ve come through a bit of a food dark age,” says Bompas. “I think people are really creative with their cooking now, there are a lot of people doing interesting things with food.

“Heston [Blumenthal] has legitimised the whole thing – he’s the best chef in the UK and if he’s doing this, it’s okay for me to have a go too.

“It’s a fine line of course – you still have to eat it and at a meal the most interesting thing is the conversation.”

That fine line may well have been crossed with their recent dirt banquet for the Wellcome Trust, served at Crossness Pumping Station, a listed Victorian building that was once part of London’s mains sewerage.

“The Wellcome Trust’s current exhibition is about dirt so they asked us to cook a massive dinner based on dirt,” says Sam. “It was wild!

“There were a fewthings which were a bit challenging, for instance dirt biscuits made of flour, sugar, water and dirt. You started thinking, ‘This is OK’, and then you’d get a crunch and be like,‘Waaah!’ “In Papua New Guinea the dirt is really rich in iron, so they traditionally eat dirt, and in other cultures it has religious significance. We eat dirt in other senses, like using yeast for fermentation or bacteria to make cheese – you’re using filth but to make something delicious.”

Hopefully filth won’t be on the menu for the literary themed Sublimely Absurd Word-Eating Dinner, arguably the highlight of the Hendrick’s Horseless Carriage Of Curiosities’ visit to Brighton).

But the pair are keeping quiet about what might be served in the four courses.

“We’ve looked at literary classics and the whole thing is inspired by that,” says Sam. “We’re putting together test menus at the moment.

“You’ve got to do it better than you did it last time, otherwise it’s boring. Given that we’ve already done levitations [with a flying fondue], explosions and changing people’s very palates, I think we can only go even more extreme this time.

“About 20% of what we do is cooking, but we spend a lot of time working out how we can give people an awesome time.

“All knowledge is freely available, and if you don’t know how to do something, there’s always someone who does. As long as it’s a good idea there will be people who are up for it, which is great. Anything is possible if you find the right people.”

This will be the second time in recent months the pair have visited Brighton, having provided an Easter treat in the city’s Churchill Square shopping centre with their pop-up Rabbit Cafe.

Diners were able to pet bunnies at the same time as eating selections from their idiosyncratic seasonal menu, which included hot cross bun ice cream, raisin rabbit droppings and hot chocolate with rabbit paw mallows.

Entry to the cafe was free, with 20% of proceeds from food and drink sales going to the RSPCA.

What Bompas and Parr are probably best known for is revolutionising the childhood teatime treat: jelly.

They have made black jellies for a funeral, invented glow-in-the-dark jellies, produced a flaming Great Fire Of London jelly for a Samuel Pepys memorial meal, and launched the Architectural Jelly Design Competition at London’s University College. They’ve even released their own book about the wobbly dessert.

And Brighton was there at the start, providing inspiration for one of their first jelly moulds.

“We made a jelly based on the onion dome of the Royal Pavilion,” reveals Sam. “It’s one of the first moulds we ever designed because it’s the ultimate pleasure palace.

“It’s also the ultimate kitchen because a quarter of it used to be kitchens. I think it would be impossible to do one of the whole building – you couldn’t do it justice.

“We actually asked them if we could borrow their moulds – they have the royal mould collection there – but, apparently, absolutely not! One day...”

* Starts 7pm, tickets £100. Call 01273 917272.