Pigs, herring, and Bornholm on a table
A high-end restaurantâ€™s construction of authenticity
This paper focuses on constructions of authenticity in a high-end restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark. The restaurant self-identifies as â€˜Bornholmianâ€™ and thereby it creates a link to the island of Bornholm, some 160 km from Copenhagen. Bornholm is introduced discursively as an interpretive universe and as an essential part of the restaurantâ€™s claim to value. We show how authenticity is performed, created, and treated reflexively. We concentrate on serversâ€™ authenticating discursive moves and their crucial role in guiding guestsâ€™ attention to relevant elements, and we point out that authenticity is a potential that does not always materialize fully. We also discuss guestsâ€™ role in the creative processes. The restaurantâ€™s construction of a comprehensive semiotic experience includes food, dÃ©cor, photos, tableware, and narratives; dialect features are used to heighten the intensity of the guestsâ€™ experience. We build on Couplandâ€™s (2003, 2014) semantic dimensions of authenticity, that lay out the meaning dimensions contributing to an understanding of authenticity, and on Coupland & Couplandâ€™s (2014) frames of authenticity. Here (constructed) authenticity emerges through interactional frames that participants can orient to and draw upon in their creation of value. Frames of cultural, recreational and material authenticity are continuously made relevant, and tradition, or historicity, and place of production, or ontology, are important semantic dimensions. The data set consists of interviews with staff, recordings of servers at work, visits to the restaurant webpage, and ethnographic field-notes and photos.
Keywords: authenticity, semantic dimensions, frames, the restaurant experience, pork