Not far down Bellagio's promenade in the luxurious new Spa Tower, you'll be welcomed into an imaginative display by a breathtaking chocolate fountain - a glass-enclosed, floor-to-ceiling chocolate fountain created by Jean-Philippe Patisserie.
Designed by award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Philippe Maury and Norwood and Antonia Oliver Design Associates, Inc., the fountain took a year and a half in planning and design. The result is a genius work of kinetic sculpture and a daring feat of engineering. Standing 27-feet tall, the masterpiece circulates more than 2,100 pounds of melted dark, milk and white chocolate at a rate of 120 quarts per minute, displaying a spectacular series of melted chocolate cascades, this first-of-its-kind spectacle.
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“I am very proud of being recognized by Guinness World Records™ for having achieved this goal,” said Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Philippe Maury. “I’ve been creating sculptures out of chocolate for years, but exploring the properties of melted chocolate has been fascinating. Each of the three types of chocolate behave very differently, and we had to be aware of this in the design. It’s been a wonderful challenge!”
The visual impact of the fountain is compelling: six spouts in the ceiling initiate the lyrical descent of rich dark, velvety milk and glistening white chocolate streams through a maze of 25 suspended glass vessels. Cast in ½-inch thick, rough-hewn aqua glass and held in position by anchoring cables, each vessel was built to precise size, shape and design by Montreal artist Michel Mailhot. Some oblong, some rounded, each irregular, the vessels hover mobile-like to capture and coax the paths of free-falling liquid chocolate.
Three rivers of dark, milk and white chocolates twist and swirl from vessel to vessel, flood across then spill down to the next carefully positioned receptacle. Having finished their acrobatic tumble down the tiers of this colossal chandelier, each rivulet funnels into hidden melting tanks, recollects and begins the journey once more.
Surrounding all this is a protective, multi-faceted cloak of 300-pound glass panels that rise in a funnel shape as the fountain expands toward the ceiling.
Designer Norwood Oliver said, “We’ve made glass a central design component of both the fountain and the Pâtisserie. Glass maximizes the visibility of chocolate’s color and the multiple cascades as they flow from vessel to vessel. Glass also was an ideal medium to take the fountain’s physical presentation to another level – sculpture.”
Built under Oliver and Chef Maury’s guidance by Perfect Équipements of Montreal, the fountain’s power plant is an elaborate system of pipes, pumps and valves located beneath the floor of the Pâtisserie. There, three tanks of chocolate – dark, milk and white – melt to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Six pumps join forces to transport the molten delight to the top of the fountain through two-inch diameter, stainless-steel pipes hidden within the walls of the shop. Surrounding each pipe is an additional three-inch pipe through which hot oil flows to keep the chocolate thinned as it journeys up the wall to make its entrance. More than 500 feet of these double pipes circulate chocolate 24 hours a day.
Randy Morton, president of Bellagio, said, “The scope of this team’s vision and their expertise are nothing short of genius. Jean Philippe Pâtisserie has become a sightseeing destination and is a stellar addition to Bellagio’s collection of elegant amenities. This one-of-a-kind fountain, Chef Maury’s exquisite confections and the refined elegance of the décor and packaging all combine to make an experience our guests will never forget.”
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