This post is all about a restaurant (and attraction) at our hotel. Madeline and I traveled to Bali and stayed at the beautiful Grand Hyatt Bali. Luckily for us, they added a new restaurant called Le Petit Chef. We had heard of this concept, but we really knew very little about it. If you look at the chef in the picture, he’s taller than Madeline but inside, he’s much smaller.
Le Petit Chef is a popular dining experience that combines food with animation and storytelling. It was created by the Belgian company nicknamed "skullmapping". The experience features a projected animation of a small chef who cooks dishes in front of diners, in an entertaining and interactive way. The animation is synchronized with the actual dishes being served, so the "little chef" appears to be talking about what eventually we get as food on the plate. It is a 2D animation, but the animation covers the entire table.
The little chef has a book on each diner’s place setting. Before the meal starts, the server takes the book which is then opened to two facing blank pages. Then, an acrylic top is placed on the book. This allows the 2D animation to occur on the book (protected by the acrylic) or anything on top of it like a plate. The concept of Le Petit Chef has been well received by audiences and has been praised for its unique combination of technology and dining. The experience is available in quite a few countries, including the United Kingdom, United States, and Europe. At the time of our dinner, there were 35 locations, and they were growing everywhere. In many locations, they are based in a hotel, like our experience in Bali at the Grand Hyatt Bali.
The theme for our dinner was Marco Polo and his journey. Marco Polo was a Venetian explorer and merchant who lived from 1254 to 1324. He is best known for his travels to the Mongol Empire and China, which he documented in a book called "The Travels of Marco Polo." Polo's travels began in 1271, when he set out with his father and uncle on a journey to the court of Kublai Khan, the Mongol ruler of China. The Polos travelled overland through Asia, eventually reaching Khan's court in Beijing. They stayed in China for several years, serving the Khan as envoys and trading with the locals. During their time there, Polo learned about the culture and geography of the Far East and made important contacts with the rulers of the region.
After returning to Venice in 1295, Polo wrote about his experiences in "The Travels of Marco Polo." The book was an instant success and was translated into many languages, making Polo one of the first Westerners to provide a first-hand account of the culture and geography of Asia. It also served as a valuable resource for other explorers and merchants who sought to follow in his footsteps. Despite his fame, Marco Polo spent the latter part of his life in relative obscurity. He died in 1324, but his book has endured as a classic of world literature and a testament to his incredible journey. Amazingly enough, it is still in publication, and you can get it here.
The Marco Polo journey for our little chef started in Marseilles where the little chef was born. Our first course was shrimp, crab and fish bisque which was delicious. From Marseilles, our intrepid traveler got into a boat which took him to Arabia. We saw him on his journey and what he found in Arabia. That brought us to our next course. The servers brought us edamame hummus with rainbow radish, seed lavosh, pita bread Quinoa mint tabbouleh & croutons with beetroot coriander, some falafel, and tahini yoghurt, along with dates. This was beautifully presented with each of the dishes in a separate container.
Our chef then traveled to India, and we saw him sample the spice market. The next course was very simple: a vegetable pakora with spiced chickpea flour batter, Aram masala, and a mint yoghurt. It sounds very impressive, but it was a small 2 bite dish - packed with flavor.
Then our little chef hopped on a bird for transport and wound up somewhere in the Himalayas. This was a sorbet course to clean the palate. I won’t spoil the surprise for you, but it was an impressive dish of green apple sorbet with lime jelly and the presentation was quite amazing.
The main dish required our little chef to go to China The bird still was his mode of transport and the main dish was a chicken dish with ginger, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, Pak choi and some vegetables. There was also a chicken shu mai dumpling and some steamed brown rice.
Our hero then felt compelled to return to his hometown of Marseilles where he was received with much acclaim. He overachieved in the dessert category. It was a lot of chocolate dishes. It included a chocolate cold creme Brule, a white cigarette tuille, double chocolate banana flour brownies, chocolate pop with raspberry jelly and a chocolate sponge cake.
There was an option for free-flowing wine or beer, and we chose wine. Madeline enjoyed Pinot Grigio wine, and I had a nice Chardonnay wine throughout the dinner. The service was terrific, and the wine glass was refilled without asking.
We thought that we would likely be impressed with the presentation of the little chef more than the food, but the chef did a great job of presenting him/herself and the food was very tasty. Madeline was quite full and couldn’t even finish all of her chocolate which was a big surprise.
The whole meal including tip with wine was much less than a nice dinner we might have at a downtown restaurant in Dallas. So, we felt it was a great time to splurge a bit on the experience. We think you’ll really enjoy this opportunity and if you stay at the Grand Hyatt Bali, all you need to do is charge it to your room and walk to your room after the meal – what could be easier.
It was a very nice guest experience, and the Grand Hyatt Bali made it so easy to enjoy. Our servers were great and the real person (not imaginary) who dressed up in various costumes during the presentation was very funny. He represented the “big person” chef and he’d explain things to us when the little chef was doing his thing at our table. The whole presentation was charming, and the food was delicious with excellent service. I’d highly recommend it.