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‘I watched the chef wrestle with a mole on my table at this dining experience’

Surprisingly, this kind of dining experiences still exist. Faulty Towers the Original Dining Experience promises to “serve up mayhem on a plate alongside a three-course meal and two hours of non-stop laughter”. Horrifically, more than 70 per cent of this show is improvised.

Diners at Only Fools: The (Cushty) Dining Experience could chat with Del Boy, Rodney and crew while troughing down a meal. Well, they could have done until Shazam, the production company set up by the show’s late writer John Sullivan, sued the dining experience over copyright and won, shutting business down in 2022.  

Wandsworth Times: The first course the six inch chef createdThe first course the six inch chef created (Image: Zita Whalley)

Thankfully, Le Petit Chef, which calls itself a “unique theatrical dinner”, is not this kind of theatre and dining trauma. It is theatrical dining in the digital age, which, thank God, does not involve real actors with real aspirations. It’s a cute idea that’s a little twee and whimsical. And it also runs for two hours.  

Le Petit Chef is a thumb-sized animated cook, created by Belgian creative project Skullmapping which works with projection mapping and techy visuals and graphics, and who now has enough followers on Instagram to be an influencer with clout.

The little guy was created in 2015 out of the idea to project a small chef onto a plate. This grew into the five-course dinner which is now running in 45 locations worldwide including Riyadh, Siem Reap, Zanzibar, Ingolstadt in Germany and Darwin even. He may be diabolically little, but the six-inch chef gets around.  

Wandsworth Times: And the first course that actually arrived on our platesAnd the first course that actually arrived on our plates (Image: Zita Whalley)

Le Petit Chef came to London in April setting up home in The London Cabaret Club, which is not a Dirty Dicks-esque theatre restaurant despite still flying the theatrical dining flag. Rather than performed on a stage or out front, for Le Petit Chef the drama is projected onto the table, your table setting your own personal screen.

It’s such a niche and novel idea and for £119 a pop plus drinks, it was hard to predict what kind of crowd it would pull. On the night my pal Ania and I tried it out, we were amongst the company of date night duos both young-ish and old-ish and a couple of families with young teenagers with a mix of British and other accents amongst us. Also, the waiters had Day of the Dead face paint on for a Halloween party hosted in the venue later that night, which was a really enjoyable touch.  

Before each course, Le Petit Chef’s efforts are broadcast down onto and around your dinner plate.  

These are sweet animated vignettes of the small chef-cap wearing man wrestling with ingredients, kitchen equipment and a rotund mole as he tries to prepare the five courses you are about to eat.

Wandsworth Times: The real-life beef and mashThe real-life beef and mash (Image: Zita Whalley)

The menu is preset, although there are different menus for dietary requirements. If you go with the main one, your dishes should line up with the animation.

While trying to prepare a garden salad, Le Petit Chef loses a battle with the burrowing thief over a radish. And then, volia! A plate of burrata sitting in a garden salad is placed in front of you by your Day of the Dead-styled waiter. After watching the chef struggling to flip a steak with a fork three times his size, slabs of Hereford beef are placed in front of you. Cute.

Food usually plays second fiddle to gimmick, but both Ania and I were surprised that dishes weren’t slop and in fact enjoyable.

Was the burrata with a garden salad of rocket, tomato and radish slivers something I could have made at home? Yes, definitely, Did I still enjoy eating it? Also yes.

Wandsworth Times: Le Petit Chef hard at work preparing dessertLe Petit Chef hard at work preparing dessert (Image: Zita Whalley)

The bright orange bouillabaisse was good with its thick tangy broth and generous chunks of fleshy fish plumped up with the bouillon and crisped skin still on.

The Lobster risotto was fine, nothing spectacular but also not terrible, and the two slices of pink beef came under a deluge of peppercorn sauce and next to some pretty good mash and a stem of charred broccoli and a leg of honey-glazed carrot, which were also fine.

The crème brûlée was nice and creamy, and while it didn’t need the blob of berry sorbet sitting on top, this too was also nice.

Le Petit Chef maybe a one schtick wonder, but it’s a really charming one.

Wandsworth Times: The action is projected onto your tableThe action is projected onto your table (Image: Zita Whalley)

Find Le Petit Chef at The London Cabaret Club at Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, Holborn WC1B 4DA and visit thelondoncabaretclub.com for more information.

Read More:‘I watched the chef wrestle with a mole on my table at this dining experience’