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MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA The Klingon inspecting limousines at the entrance were the first sign that this would not be a typical wine event. They were part of a Star Trek-themed vintner dinner, one of 17 celebrity chef-helmed events at private homes as part of the 13th annual Naples Winter Wine Festival last month.
Milda Vaivada of Soirée designed the event, her seventh vintner dinner for the festival, with contributions from Damian Rojo on decor and prop rentals. A Star Trek fan herself, Vaivada suggested the concept as an unexpected take on the overall festival theme of “When Stars Align.” The hosts agreed, setting up an immersive experience that guided the 32 guests from their limousines into the lounge and through to dinner.
As the drivers pulled into the gate, a staffer dressed as a Klingon used flashlights to check the vehicles for aliens before approving them to travel down a long driveway. When guests stepped out, they paused at a hand-recognition station. A voice-over then directed them to walk through a constructed “scanning” passageway filled with laser lights that led to the pool deck and terrace. Vaivada used the outdoor space to create the Starship Enterprise’s Astro Lounge, where guests received laser-etched boarding passes and were served champagne and hors d’oeuvres.
Vaivada chose futuristic lounge furniture, including a silver circular bench with a truss rising from the middle with glowing orbs on top. Spiky Mylar creations floated in the pool, and guests could take turns at a powerful telescope with an astronomer providing guidance. Scenes from Star Trek played on a large monitor, and five costumed characters—including Captain James T. Kirk, Uhura, and Worf—mingled.
From the lounge, guests moved inside to the Starship’s Control Room from dinner. The centerpieces offered another futuristic element: iPads embedded on the sides that displayed the menu and updated as each course was served from chef Tony Mantuano of Chicago’s Spiaggia. Even the napkins fit the theme, folded to resemble the insignia worn by officers in the science fiction show.
“The success of it was taking a venue that was a very traditional—a big house with an Italian look—and totally transforming it so you felt you were in outer space,” Vaivada said.