A culinary journey around the world in 6 courses, involving 5 senses and 3D media mapping.
We visited our friend David Fischette in Nashville this past Friday to learn more about his very successful new event tool. The first North American public run at The Standard concluded a few days ago.
We wanted to find out whether we can bring this experience to the corporate event world.
The answer: YES!
'Le Petit Chef in the footsteps of Marco Polo' is a two hour dining show that tells the story of how the world's smallest chef follows the route of Marco Polo. The show’s 6 course menu takes the guest along a culinary journey across the regions visited by the legendary traveler. The unparalleled 3D show is complimented by a unique gastronomic experience full of fun and surprises. Diners engage in a 5-senses spectacle as they savor the tastes of the story along its sights, sounds and aromas. The 3D mapping concept uses animated optical illusion techniques to project a little chef cooking on your plate.
The concept had been created by two Belgian artists who teamed up with an entrepreneur and concept creator from Dubai to offer a unique new dining experience to the market.
Thanks to Go West Creative we can bring this extravaganza to a corporate event.
EW: How did you bring this concept to North America?
David: "One of our interns had brought the video of Le Petit Chef to one of our creative meetings and I was immediately enthralled. But my first question was: is this scaleable? We contacted the creators to get started. The original concept takes Le Petit Chef from Marseilles, France to Arabia, India, the Himalayas to China and back to France, in search of all the world's greatest spices along the Silk Road with a set menu along the two-hour, 6-course journey. We adapted this concept to concentrate on the spices. We then contacted chefs in all these culinary regions to create menus based on those flavor profiles, the region and the city that we are in so we can infuse some local personality as well. So now we can also deal with every kind of allergy or food preference. We opened in Nashville in February and just closed last week and we are getting ready to take Le Petit Chef to Toronto with a Canadian partner where we will open on the 26th of September.
EW: How is this adaptable to a corporate event?
David: "Besides the media mapping there is one element that creator Nadine Beshir really brought to the table and that is the experiential delivery of each course. For instance, in the first scene Le Petit Chef sails away from Marseilles by folding a paper into a little boat. The first course is served in a suitcase. The second scene takes place in Arabia and the corresponding course arrives in an ornate black box. Diners have to figure out together how to open the mystery box. Inside they also find a hookah and a magic carpet. Each course is served in a different manner.
This is perfect for a executive board dinner, 25 to 30 people. We can go up to 100 diners. It can be done for a 1000 people but it loses the intimacy. The beauty of it is the shared experience. You sit at this long communal table and get to know all the people around you and experience this together. Everything happens simultaneously. With a large group you run into challenges. How do you get the food serviced exactly on cue for so many people? Ideally the dinner is produced for 20 to 75 people, maybe 100. At 100 we run at one staff for every 4 guests. That is just on the floor. Then you also have expeditors. It involves an incredible ballet between the kitchen, the food prep and how we execute each scene and the timing. Before we opened here in Nashville we rehearsed the wait staff for 5 hours a day for 5 days a week for 2 weeks before we opened for previews. We encountered some unique challenges in Nashville due to the measurements of the room 11 feet wide by 53 feet long.
The story is projected onto a book. The food gets served on a tray that gets placed on top of the book. So how do we serve the trays elegantly without bumping into people's heads or into each other?
We added some extra elements that we felt were missing in the European version of the event that we visited last November.
For the American experience we created a character of a maitre'd and created a story for him. He is an American who runs into the Little Chef during a trip and ends up becoming his assistant. The American maitre'd ties the story together as the Little Chef comes to America. We added a few more details for the American version. For example, in London the projectors were hidden in standard lamp shades. We felt there was an opportunity to reinforce the branding by creating the custom Japanese lanterns."
EW: "How long does it take to set up?"
David: "For a 100-person dinner we set up in one day and we rehearse 5 to 6 hours on the day of the event. We bring in a lot of floor managers. It helps if the room has rigging. Otherwise we bring in a truss. In each case we add decor to hide the technology. We don't need much power. The projectors are HD projectors and the rest of the lighting is LED. The technology is fairly simple to run. 100 amps covers it. It just is programming it that is complicated. In Nashville the show took place in a 175-year old building. Since the ceiling had shift in it we had to go in every day and realign the projectors."
Below: the table setting in 3D animation.
Above: same table setting with altered 3D animation effect.
EW: "Could you give us an idea about the budget?"
David: "If you are looking to do this it is ideal if the client books a series of dinners. The expense is relatively high for a one-of. For one group of 20 people the cost of bringing the technology and a staff of 12 to 15 is rather high. If you can produce 3 to 4 dinners in a week it becomes more interesting."
EW: "Are the graphics customizable?"
David: "We can add some customization, for instance wishing someone Happy Birthday at the beginning or end but the show is a combination of 3D and 2D animation and changing the Little Chef story line itself is very complicated. All the physical room decor can be adjusted and it changes for each location.
New shows are coming. Think of it a bit like Cirque de Soleil. They bring out new story lines every year. The current show Le Petit Chef has been running for 3 years. The Dinner Time Stories Team is developing a new show for release later in 2018. And we have a new show in development as well. It will be ready in October."
We love this novel idea of experiencing food in exotic locations in a communal, shared experience.
Call us. Bon Appetit!