A fancy meal with kid appeal: Culinary videomapping in Prague brings families together

An novelty culinary experience uses 3D mapping projection to transform a five-course meal into immersive theater.

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas
Published on 27.08.2021 21:00 (updated on 28.08.2021)

While most parents spend mealtimes competing with their kids' mobile screens, a new animated dining experience in Prague encourages family members to put down their devices and enjoy a different kind of digital dining experience.

Le Petit Chef debuted in the Czech capital last October in The Able Butcher restaurant at Hilton Prague. The brainchild of a Belgian tech company, the novelty culinary experience uses 3D mapping projection to transform a five-course meal into an immersive theater, where the tablecloth, plates, and cutlery become scenery and props for the diminutive hero of the story.

The technical side of the production is a winning combination of high art and holographs. Those who sit down at the Le Petit Chef table won't be surprised to learn that prior to its debut in 2010, the talented artists' collective behind the project, Skullmapping, worked on music videos for Selah Sue and Willow and frequently exhibits at galleries in Leuven.

The Able Butcher Restaurant at the Hilton Prague.
The Able Butcher Restaurant at the Hilton Prague.

But Le Petit Chef remains their most well-known innovation to date, traveling to restaurants around the world from London to Singapore, from Dubai to Kuala Lumpur. 

Michael Specking, General Manager, of the Hilton Prague, said the implementation of the show remains in step with the hotel's "city resort" vibe, a place where clients have multiple entertainment options under one roof.

“We want to surprise our guests, to remember their visit as a memorable one," he said adding that given the ongoing travel restrictions outlet such as Beer Garden Karlin and Cloud 9 Sky Bar & Lounge attract local leisure clients as well.

The 58-mm-high French chef presents each course in the form of a short segment that utilizes the entire tabletop surface to follow his search for ingredients. First comes the Burrata and Rocket Salad with Confit of Heirloom Tomatoes which the chef sources from a leafy garden that looks like something out of Beatrix Potter.

The Spring Chicken on Potato Hay, Shimeji, and Asparagus Tips is whipped up using flora and fauna from a mushroom-laden arcadian woodland while a fisherman's net and spear are employed to segue into a real-ife briny bowl of Bouillabaisse with Prawns and Mussels. 

The main course of Slowly Baked Czech Beef Fillet with Mashed Celeriac, Aromatic Herb Grenaille Potatoes, and the Signature "Le Petit Chef” Sauce is delivered in a similar style. A finale of Vanilla Beans Crème Brulée on a Bed of Saffron and Cardamom Rice Pudding is heralded by a dazzling display of Indian motif graphics and a parade of spice pots.

Even without the theatrics, the food stands on its own as sumptuous special-occasion fare thanks to Hilton Prague's skilled culinary team led by real-life Italian Executive Chef Franco Luise, a veteran of internationally renowned five-star deluxe hotels from St. Moritz to Lisbon.

While the bouncy music and sound effects may begin to feel a bit gimmicky for grownups, the experience proves enchanting for kids while showcasing the potential for a new culinary future that brings technology to the table in a parent-approved way.

Prices for the Le Petit Chef show begin at CZK 2,190 for the classic menu mentioned here (vegetarian, vegan, and less-expensive children's menu options are available as is a pricier Le Grande Chef package). A welcome toast is included in the price. Shows run Wednesday–Sunday with 1-2 slots per evening but check the website to confirm availability.

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