The people behind Enlightenment Feasts want to put an end to the type of dinner parties where the conversation rarely rises above property prices and Kardashian offspring. In fact, its two food and wine experiences will be delving into the theme of Enlightenment when they happen as part of this year’s Vivid Sydney Ideas program.

In the 18th century, great thinkers such as Rousseau, Diderot and Voltaire started to look at the world in a different way. Using the twin powers of science and reason, they shed new light on traditional ideas and ways of doing things. It was a period that would come to be known as the Enlightenment, an intellectual, philosophical, cultural and social movement that spread outwards from Europe and would, ultimately, change the world.

Three hundred years later, the questions asked by Rousseau and friends are still relevant.

"Hard Things To Talk About is an immersive dinner series exploring complex, often intangible themes through story-led food and wine, evocative performance and spoken word," says Lekki Maze, who is behind the dinners. “This is an event that is curated on all levels to explore the tricky and sticky parts of what it means to be human. This is why we call it an immersive dinner, because it gets you from all angles.”

The dinners, which are held in the Royal Botanic Garden's The Calyx, are part of the Hard Things To Talk About series and, though the topics may seem big, Maze hopes people will be challenged by it in an enigmatic and charming way. “This layered, multi-sensory experience is designed to inspire and delight, and stir great conversations that explore what we really think about the big things in life we rarely talk about,” she says. “It's all about really getting into the grit of what it means to be human.”

At Immersive Drinks and Canapes on May 26 you’ll be handed a cocktail and then learn what is an enlightened mind and what is an enlightened existence. Speakers include neural and systems complexity specialist Fiona Kerr and collective mind expert Derek Leddie. Between canapes you’ll also find out if ants are really intelligent (and what that means for us) from Tanya Latty, an entomologist and specialist in individual and collaborative intelligence and collective memory.

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Kerr, Leddy and Lattie will also speak at the Immersive Dinner Experience on Saturday June 2, a three-course meal with matching wines. They’ll be joined by Dan Goods, a visual strategist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the founder of the Museum of Awe and one of Vivid Sydney Ideas’ Game Changers for 2018. Part of his MO is reminding people of the gift and privilege of being alive. Philosopher Matt Beard will also take the stage, bringing dusty philosophical concepts into the real world to explore ethics, meaning and purpose.

Immersive Drinks and Canapes is on May 26 and Immersive Dinner Experience is on June 2 at The Calyx in the Royal Botanic Garden. Vivid Sydney is on from May 25 to June 16 across the city. For tickets visit here.

vividsydney.com