That’s exactly what musician duo Hayden Victor and Michail Thompson set out to create at UNA, their one-of-a-kind experience that engages all five senses at once.
“We’re thinking outside the box of what a concert can really be,” says Thompson, a classically trained musician and conductor based in San Francisco.
The two met while studying music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. “I had already started to experiment with food and music,” says Victor. “Michail came up to me and we got to chatting about the intersection of the two, and that’s how UNA was born.”
The pair set out to be as intentional about food and music pairing as you would with wine or multiple courses. Their first experience? A dinner party for 40 of their friends. “I just fell in love with what we were doing,” says Victor. “Not only is Michail a phenomenal musician, he’s really creative. He helped turn this from a cool dinner party idea to a real company, and before long we were doing tons of events.”
Victor combines his classical tuba training with his experience as a private chef to build interactive four-course meals. “I spend my days cooking and trying to create new pairings of ways to fuse my two passions into this project,” he says. “Whether I’m cooking in person or delivering a box of ingredients to teach you how to cook, I want it to feel special.”
UNA means “as one,” or “together,” which is exactly the kind of feeling the two try to create with each event. “We take that to mean the creative union of food and music,” says Thompson. “When you sit down at a restaurant, you can see the food, you can smell it, you can taste it. But you can’t hear the food. What we’ve done is tried to figure out what a dish sounds like, and design a complete experience around it.”
The two completely deconstruct every element before an event to figure out what’s complementary, starting either with the music or with the food, like putting together a puzzle. “We might start out by listening to the music, writing down adjectives about how it makes us feel, or what we’re thinking about,” says Victor. “And then we try to build a dish that speaks to those same adjectives.”
This bridges the gap between the taste, smell, texture, and plating of a dish and the missing sense that your mind secretly craves: Sound. The result is an experience that washes over you, stimulating not only your palate but also the deepest corners of your artistic self.
Every UNA event is different based on the dish, whether it’s capturing the magic of the Nutcracker for the holidays or taking to the streets of New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Their Marco experiences include pre-packaged boxes sent directly to your home with everything you need to create the perfect concert.
It’s not just another concert
You won’t just get a livestream link for a snooze fest. “Classical music can feel so stuffy and pretentious,” says Victor. “We want to introduce it to people in a way that feels comfortable. Listening to music and eating food isn’t new. But we help you think more intentionally and more deeply about what you’re experiencing.”
UNA takes a meticulous approach to detail that means that every piece of the experience, from the box of ingredients to the set list, aligns with the theme. “We work really hard to make sure everything lines up in a creative, artistic way,” says Thompson. “You’re getting all of these different flavors together in one experience, in your home.”
But the best part for Victor and Thompson? The way virtual experiences provide new connections. “We get to share our show with more people than we would have before,” says Victor. “It’s so fun to be able to find these amazing local ingredients from the Bay Area, collaborate with cool artists and creators, and spread that work to a much larger audience.”
And they do it all with Marco.
“Marco is clearly a home for creative ideas that can be given by people all over the country, all over the world,” says Thompson. “We’re very honored to be on this platform and to be able to share something that we're extremely passionate about in such an accessible way.”
UNA delivers a journey for all of the senses that transports you to an entirely different place. They’ll deliver the ingredients and everything you need — all you have to do is come with an open mind. Says Thompson, “All you have to do is show up and trust us with your curiosity.”