The 3D projection mapping phenomenon that continues to delight internet users is back: this time it’s in the Middle East. Those visiting Dubai’s World Trade Club, located on the 33rd floor of the World Trade Center Sheikh Rashid Tower, or the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal in Abu Dhabi, can book a table and see Le Petit Chef’s latest adventure in action right in front of their eyes.
This time, Skullmapping’s Filip Sterckx and Antoon Verbeeck teamed up with entrepreneur and concept creator, Nadine Beshir to offer a unique new dining experience.
Entitled ‘Le Petit Chef In The Footsteps Of Marco Polo,’ the two-hour dining show tells the story of Le Petit Chef as he follows the route of Marco Polo. The show’s six-course menu takes the diner along a unique culinary journey across the regions visited by the legendry traveller.
“We worked closely with Nadine, our agent in the Middle East, who is a concept creator and entrepreneur with a lot of experience in the food and beverage industry,” Filip tells CIE. “We decided to do something around Marco Polo as his journey is so well known and he travelled to so many exotic places known for their food and spices. Nadine produced the show – she looked for a chef, locations, the investment and the props which go along with each dish, and a thousand other things!”
Le Petit Chef In The Footsteps Of Marco Polo was conceptualised as a travelling popup restaurant, so after featuring in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it will visit other locations. The Ritz Carlton in Abu Dhabi had the original Le Petit Chef in one of their restaurants for six months, and due to its success, they immediately agreed to host the new 3D projection concept.
“The projection and sound/music actually never stops, it’s conceptualised as one, long experience,” Filip explains. “The show starts with a closed book. As soon as everyone is seated, they can open the book, and le petit chef appears. After greeting the guests, he starts to explain how he became the chef of the restaurant you’re sitting in. He tells you that he always had a passion for food, and that it was a natural choice for him to open up his own food stand on the streets of Marseille, which is visualised through Polaroids on the pages of the book.
“Unfortunately the food stand was not very successful (people said that his food was boring or uninspired), so when he discovers the book of Marco Polo, he decides to set sail and follow his route, hoping to discover new and exotic ingredients and spices. When he is on the ocean in his paper boat, guests are served an amuse-bouche with fish, presented in a miniature suitcase.
“He then arrives in an Arabian market, and tries the different types of food,” Filip continues. “But he gets discovered by one of the market vendors and is chased away and ends up in the desert in a sandstorm. At this point guests are served the next dish, which is in a wooden box, and you sort of have to figure out how to open it. Inside are bite-sized Arabian dishes presented as small treasures, meant for sharing. As the sandstorm clears, we see our chef lying down unconscious in the sand. A scorpion comes in for the kill, but a little bird flies in and eats the scorpion just in time. Our chef and the bird become friends and decide to travel together to look for the best spices in the world. In return, our chef promises to cook a delicious meal for the little bird. He then gets on the back of the bird and they fly off, leaving the desert behind, and end up at an Indian market. They crash-land in the typical coloured spice hills and they start throwing spices at each other until the whole table is covered in colour (much like the Holi festival in India). At this point, customers are served an Indian dish.”
Filip continues: “The chef and bird then fly to Mount Everest and land on the top, at which point guests are served a sorbet as palette cleanser. They then fly on to China and land in front of a temple. They start eating from the food offerings that are on the altar, not knowing this is intended for the dragon god. The statue awakes and starts chasing them. The chef ends up on a fireworks arrow and is shot into the clouds, and this is when guests are served the main dish.
“The page turns and the chef explains that he flew all the way back to France. As soon as he was back in his food stand, he began to experiment with exotic ingredients and spices, delivered to him by his bird friend, who flew all over the world to bring him the best ingredients. Customers now loved his food, and he became so successful that he decided to open up his restaurant. He then disappears into the table through a small trap door. Waiters remove the book and put a plate in place. The chef now prepares rice pudding right onto your plate, using cardamom from Arabia, saffron from India and rice from China. Guests are served the real rice pudding desert and are offered Arabian coffee or Chinese tea.”
The technology making all of this possible plays as much of an important part as the animation itself. The Ritz in Abu Dhabi uses one Optoma HD28DSE full HD 1080p projector per two guests, using 13 in total for a maximum of 26 guests.
The World Trade Center Club uses one Optoma HD28DSE projector per person due to the venue’s low ceiling, with a maximum capacity of 16 guests. At both locations, BrightSign players are used to send the different videos to the projectors.
“This has been a very cool project to work on; it was very satisfying to make something which is a lot longer in duration compared to what we usually create,” Filip enthuses. “Animation is really time consuming, so a lot of our projects have a short duration. So to make something longer, and that is not only a projection but a full experience in which all senses are triggered, feels really rewarding and is very inspiring for future projects.”
The main challenge Skullmapping encountered was to produce a lot of content with different scenery, in a very short period of time. “We only had around three months to complete this project, so we ended up working close to day and night to finish it, working weekends – we kept going until it was done.”
The effort put in was clearly worth the reward, as Filip says that the feedback has ranged from “great to amazing! People really seem to enjoy the whole experience. They connect to the character of the petit chef and with his journey, and really love the food as well as how it is presented.”
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