It’s no secret that good music enhances the flavor or any dish, as readily as the right dash of this, the right teaspoon of that. No wonder executive chefs the world over have a lot to say about the playlists on their dining room speakers. In Vietnam these days, they’re doubling down on the enhancement factor by having kitchen staff repurpose ladles as microphones. Waiters and cooks at the Alma resort on the Cam Ranh peninsula are now belting out medleys of classic hits at La Casa restaurant every Wednesday and Friday evening.
With ladles, pans and tambourines in hand, and with a live piano as a foundation, the apron-and-toque donning Alma Choir break into song and dance as suddenly as a flash mob to perform international and Vietnamese tunes. Their repertoire includes Abba’s Mamma Mia, Boney M’s Rivers of Babylon, Nguyễn Hồng Thuận’s Xinh Tươi Viet Nam (Beautiful Vietnam) and Đức Huy’s Lời Yêu Thương (Words of Love).
What began as a group of staff banding together to sing Christmas carols in the weeks leading up to Alma’s debut in late December last year has matured into a professional outfit under the stewardship of the resort’s resident pianist Ben Guillen and guest experience manager Maya Nguyen.
“Christmas is the one time of the year I really miss my country Austria and its Christmas markets so I wanted to bring that festive spirit to Alma and asked who wanted to be part of a Christmas choir,” said Laubichler-Pichler, a hospitality veteran who has managed some of Vietnam’s most acclaimed hotels. “Sixteen staff from our resort’s various departments, including front office, food and beverage, recreation, and spa, answered the call and oh how they can sing; they have become a permanent fixture at our resort, bringing tears of joy to the eyes of our diners.”
Guillen, who has a background in musical arrangement, said the response from the diners at La Casa, a sophisticated and capacious dining setting seating up to 164 guests had been so positive “some customers have danced on their seats”.
He also said that, in light of the recent flare-up in COVID-19 cases in Danang, all of the singers would be social distancing from each other and guests during performances.
In addition to performing at La Casa twice a week, Alma Choir practices at Alma Lounge three times a week as Guillen plays the lounge’s grand piano. The choir is also available to perform at special events at the resort including weddings.
“The Singing Waiters and Cooks” is staged each Wednesday and Friday evening at La Casa from 7 pm. Complimentary for diners, the choir performs two songs from their extensive repertoire before the resort’s resident singer Engie sings two song solo followed by the choir performing another two songs.