Inspired by the rise of supper clubs, technology and her travels, entrepreneur and businesswoman Nadine Beshir created one of the most exciting dining experiences you could imagine: Dinner Time Stories. Currently running at TT Liquor in Shoreditch, the immersive pop-up imaginatively blends 3D mapping technology with stunning cuisine to take you on a journey in the footsteps of Marco Polo, along the Silk Road from Marseilles to India and beyond. Here, Nadine shares her Dinner Time Stories secrets.
How did you come up with the concept of Dinner Time Stories?
“While doing my research, I came across a video online by art collective Skullmapping, called ‘Le Petit Chef’, where a tiny little animated chef was projected onto a set dining table. The animation featured him turning the plate into a BBQ grill and the little chef proceeded to cook a steak on it. I thought it would be a great idea to take the projection concept and develop a fully choreographed dining experience that integrates the technology with food, props and carefully timed service.
I approached the artists and we decided to partner to create Dinner Time Story, a sensory and mentally immersive dining experience that engages not only the senses of the diner but also their mind and imagination, via food and animation.”
Can you explain how the experience works?
“Guests take their seats on two long tables and the performance begins. In front of every spot there is a book, which is accompanied by a bright spotlight beaming down on it from above. The show begins and the animation comes alive right on guests’ placemats. Over the course of the two-hour experience, Le Petit Chef guides diners to different countries and invites them to experience different flavours and tastes. When each course is brought to the table there is a brief interlude. Once diners have finished their course, the animation continues onto the next course.”
What can diners expect at Le Petit Chef – In The Footsteps Of Marco Polo, your new pop-up in Shoreditch?
“They should expect a totally new experience and a fun night. It will be like nothing they have experienced before. They will be entertained yet have time to socialise with their party and the people around them as they enjoy delicious food and cocktails. Additionally, the atmosphere is not uptight or pretentious; it’s fine dining yet casual and relaxed.”
Le Petit Chef ran in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, what made you want to bring it to London?
“From the very beginning our aim was to create an international travelling show. We were inspired by Cirque Du Soleil. We launched in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as this is where I live, and also these destinations are very open to new ideas and concepts. London was my second choice since I had previous experience in the market.”
Tell us about the technology behind it.
“We use very standard Optoma projector hardware and media players. In terms of content, we combine animation, 3D optical illusion and projection mapping.”
Who do you collaborate with in terms of the food and digital technology?
“For the projection technology, the content and videos are created by my partners; Filip Sterckx and Antoon Verbeeck of Skullmapping, the creators of Le Petit Chef.
In the initial food development phase, we have a partner chef in Dubai, Chef Tomas Reger and in London we collaborate with Chef Jean Luc Sainlo of Sainlo Events.”
Do you anticipate technology creeping further into the culinary sphere in future to enhance the dining experience, and if so, how?
“Yes absolutely. It will be in two ways: function and entertainment. In terms of function it will be seen more in tasks like ordering, understanding the ingredients and menus. We already see that in apps that use augmented reality. For example, using the app Mirage at Jason Atherton’s City Social you can point your phone camera at a cocktail and see a display of colourful displays and illustrations imposed over the cocktail on your phone screen.
In the entertainment field, I believe there will be more utilisation of technology that would help create an atmosphere for the diner through different mediums.”
Where do you find your inspiration?
“I find inspiration from every single thing around me: a cosy dinner at a small restaurant or a fancy one in new pop up. A random conversation with someone in a coffee shop or a visit to MoMa in New York. I am also definitely inspired by the brainstorming sessions with my partners Skullmapping and my other partner Shehab El Nawawi, who is my investor. Street art inspires me and also films. I see my job as a form of art and I believe art is mere recycling of everything we experience around us.”
Where are your favourite destinations to travel to?
“I am addicted to travel and currently I spend less than a week in one place. I enjoy big cities like London, Berlin, New York and Stockholm. However, they are now more home than travel destinations.
For leisure, I love to go skiing, so the Alps would be my winter favourite. I also love the Red Sea in Egypt as I love sailing and kite surfing. Some of the most inspiring destinations I have ever been to are Iceland and the white desert in Egypt.”
Where in the world can diners experience Dinner Time Stories in 2018?
“We are now in Berlin, Stockholm, Nashville in the USA, Hong Kong and Shanghai. We will be soon opening in Belgium, Geneva, Cairo, Baden-Baden and Cologne in Germany. We also expect many more openings in the USA.”
Dinner Time Stories’ Le Petit Chef – In The Footsteps Of Marco Polo runs until March 2018.
Images © Bed Time Stories