Watch out! There’s a dragon on your plate.

At Le Petit Chef’s newest offering, available at Dubai World Trade Club and Vi Lounge in Dubai, anything is possible.

The restaurateurs use the technology of 3D mapping and optical illusion to tell a story. What this means is: You have a tiny projected chef running around your plate, telling you a story and ‘cooking your dinner’ before the real version is brought out. While there have been many tales told around these tables, in the UAE, Le Petit Chef partners with Dinner Time Story to narrate the journey of Marco Polo across the world, from Marseille to Arabia to India to Himalaya and China.

“Unlike many dining shows, we have built our story around the food, not the opposite. We believe that if the guest is out for dinner, then a fine gourmet meal should be the target and the content entertains and engages as the meal is enjoyed. In Dinner Time Story, the table becomes the screen, which comes to life and pulls you in into a fantasy world for a shared experience with friends and family. [Kids are welcome too.] We designed it so that parties of people can dine together, see the show, enjoy the food and also talk, socialise and discuss the story within their experience,” says Nadine Beshir, show producer at Dinner Time Story, whose brainchild the experience is, in an email interview with Gulf News tabloid!.

The thumb-sized cook was created by Belgium-based Skullmapping, an artistic collective founded in 2010 by Filip Sterckx and Antoon Verbeeck. Sterckx is an award-winning filmmaker and visual artist, while Verbeeck is an art gallery owner.

The idea for the Marco Polo-inspired meal came about when Beshir met the duo last summer. “We have been working on it [the experience] to get all the details right from last June. We chose that story because of several factors: Marco Polo and similar travellers have affected the western cuisine through the ingredients and the knowledge they brought back [from their travels],” she says.

“People think that the 3D effect that you see in the movie is a hologram or a 3D projection. It’s actually a normal projection, but it is a specific optical illusion that we use. By using a long distorted image from the right point of view, you get a 3D effect or illusion.” Sterckx tells website digitalsignagenews.

And this is most evident when you look at the mini-cook through your camera’s lens. For while at certain angles he looks like a slightly squished 3D to the naked eye, on videos Le Petit chef really comes alive. His struggles with the large vegetables he drags across your plate, or the bird he enlists as transport along the way are fun to watch and you find yourself rooting for the accident-prone chef. It offers cleverly served menus using indigenous ingredients (with a slight twist; think golgappas, or spicy dough balls, which cradle a prawn instead of slushing with spine tingling juice). The six-course meal — of which, the chef says, five are meant to be surprises; you get to choose your main course at the beginning of the night — is fine dining with a difference: You walk away richer by a tale.


The details

Le Petit Chef runs until May 27.

The experience is available at The World Trade Club and Vii Lounge in Dubai and The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal.

At the World Trade Club, located in Dubai World Trade Centre, the show is on Thursday and Saturday at 7 and 9pm; and on Friday at 2.30, 7 and 9pm.

At Vii Lounge the timings vary and the experience is on through the week. Cost Dh450 per person. For reservations or more information, go to dinnertimestory.com.