A Zipline Whisks Guests To Michelin-Star Dining In The Maldives

The concept of dropping in for dinner takes on a whole new meaning at a high-flying restaurant in the Maldives. Located at Soneva Fushi in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Flying Sauces is the brainchild of Sonu Shivdasani, the British hotelier who established Soneva with his wife, Eva, in the mid-1990s. Together, the couple is committed to showcasing the island's natural attributes in an environmentally friendly manner. This brings us to Flying Sauces, an elevated fine-dining venue that hovers at tree-top level in a jungle setting just steps from Dolphin Beach on the island of Kunfunadhoo. It's a place where chefs from Michelin-star restaurants around the world revel in showcasing their talents, and getting there is half the adventure.

"With ziplines suspended up to 10 meters above the ground, linked by towering platforms and road bridges, as well as the adrenaline rush of soaring along the zipline, Flying Sauces offers a wonderful new perspective of our unique island ecosystem," Shivdasani explains in a YouTube video showcasing the experience.

Getting there is half the fun

That's right — zipline. To get to Flying Sauces, guests strap into harnesses and zip 600 feet (about the length of two football fields) at tree-top level across the jungle. The starting point, called "The Den" is where hungry guests strap up before zipping at a height of about 30 feet above ground to the dining platform. Intermediary stops along the way build in time for surprises like an amuse-bouche or quick shooter. The den-to-dining room flight, including stops, takes a little more than an hour followed by a two to three-hour multi-course dinner. Wine pairings are not only available but encouraged given Soneva Fushi's 9,000-plus bottle wine cellar.

Although the zipline to Flying Sauces only operates during daylight hours, the tree-top venue offers options beyond dinner, including breakfast and high tea. The dining platform can accommodate up to 12 guests at a time, but there's a catch — at any given time, the zipline can only accommodate a solo flyer, so arrival is a guest-by-guest affair.

What's on the menu?

Since opening in 2021, Flying Sauces has hosted an ever-changing roster of chefs-in-residence, starting with Soneva's own chef Rasal Jayawardene who kicked off the one-of-a-kind experience with a seasonal six-course menu featuring dishes like Hokkaido scallop carpaccio with crispy wild rice, celeriac raisin salsa, and black cod with artichoke purée and teriyaki truffle sauce.

In residence through April 2023, chef Alberto Faccani brings the taste of Italy's two-Michelin-starred Magnolia Ristorante to Flying Sauces. Known for balancing tradition, innovation, and creativity to produce dishes that showcase the bounty of Longiano in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region at Magnolia Ristorante, Faccani honed his skills at Michelin-starred eateries La Frasca and Enoteca Pinchiorri. He worked under the auspices of acclaimed chefs Gualtiero Marchesi and Ferran Adrià, before opening Magnolia Ristorante in 2003.

During his residency at Soneva Fushi's Flying Sauces in the Maldives, Faccani anticipates once again drawing on the bounty of the local landscape to inspire his creative process, noting in a press release, "The sea is a part of me, and feeling it close to me gives me the energy and strength I need ... This allows me to unleash my creativity through different forms, giving traditional recipes a new and contemporary twist."