‘Nothing is new under the sun’ is a widely quoted phrase that dates back just a few millennia to the Book of Ecclesiastes, basically reminding us that whatever we think is a new, novel experience – is well, probably not.
BUT I’VE FOUND AN EXCEPTION TO THE RULE.
Specifically, in the case of Dinner Time Story’s new London series, Le Petit Chef.
Sure, interactive tabletops and immersive storytelling are not a completely new concept, even for London – but the interactive, changing elements of this pop-up (not to mention the 4-inch mini French chef clambering all over your food as the evening progresses) really do bring something pretty unique to the table.
Hot off the heels from huge success in Dubai and in various other cities globally; Dinner Time Story fuses together state-of-the-art tech, gastronomic storytelling and palate-pleasing pairings to bring about a completely immersive dining experience. Their London stint sees them take to the cool basement caves of one of Shoreditch’s most exciting (though criminally undersung) hangouts, T.T. Liquor, for a six-course guided feast set along the famous trail of the Silk Road.
The futuristic nature of this event is clear from the start: a long table is neatly set with screens disguised as placemats, surround-sound speakers line the room and projector lights hang from the ceiling. Starting off in Marseilles, Le Petit Chef welcomes you to the experience with klutzy vigour and clever comedic timing, turning the pages of your 'book' (basically, your placemat) and throwing around your interactive cutlery as he goes. Without giving too much away, the sounds, sights and feel of the space is completely transformed throughout the journey, spanning France to Arabia, India, the Himalayas then onto China – with the food and drinks matching each region too.
A six course feast sounds like a lot, but food-wise you won’t leave stuffed. However for what the dishes lack in size they make up for in theatre; think dry-ice, Souq-like eating vessels and a revolving table scene all throughout, with plenty of photo ops along the way. I won’t go into each dish as to not spoil the surprises, but think big and bold flavours, brave combinations, high-end aesthetics and a completely eclectic menu. The tickets are pricey (at £95 per head), so it might seem like a risk to spend so much on a set menu; but the food here is as much a part of the experience as the visuals and story are, and it certainly didn’t disappoint either. Along with each dish, you’ll also enjoy themed and complementary tipples - and with so many courses, that makes this a refreshingly boozy experience. From gin-spiked lemon tea to fruity vermouth and full-bodied glasses of Malbec, take the time to enjoy each drink with the plate – they’re matched with the flavours and are very much part of the course.
Though the story-line was slightly disjointed as a whole, and they could do with explaining each course in a little more detail, your miniature personal chef is a constant source of entertainment throughout, making this surreal experience all the more odd and unique.
From hands-free hoovers and driverless cars to fingerprint security on everyday items, there are plenty of things in 2017 a teenage me thought they’d never see; and interactive tabletops with holographic chefs is certainly one of them. We’re sure to see a lot more of this sort of thing over the next few years, but Dinner Time Story: Le Petit Chef really is a trailblazing affair that needs to be experienced to be believed.