It’s not every day that you receive an invitation to dine with the world’s smallest chef. But that is exactly what happened on Sunday night. This one-of-a-kind dinner took place at The Standard, a private cigar bar and restaurant located in a historic townhouse in downtown Nashville.
A foreigner to the country, the world’s smallest chef lives in France, but he’s just recently embarked on a world-wide tour of sorts that will take him to Stockholm, Cairo, the United Arab Emirates and all around the United States in 2018. Lucky for us, his first stop in America was right here in Nashville at one of the prettiest restaurants in town.
The Standard is an elegant splash of old-world glamour that naturally evokes daydreams of long-ago decades and previous merrymaking. Although it’s only recently become a restaurant and cigar bar (in the early 2000’s) it is definitely not hard to imagine that this building has lived a flamboyant and glamorous lifestyle throughout its existence.
Built in 1843, it is a gorgeous example of antebellum Italianate architecture, the last of its kind on this city block that once held dozens of similar buildings all in a row. With its exposed brick walls, moody lighting, leather furniture, big fireplaces and cozy nooks your imagination doesn’t have to run far to conjure up swanky scotch parties and charming tuxedo-types romancing dates and drinks throughout the past 175 years.
Originally a family home, then a bed and breakfast in the 1980’s, and now most recently a night-time restaurant and a private club, it is safe to say that this building has seen its fair share of special occasion dinners. This past Sunday evening was no exception.
Tucked into a private dining room with two long tables, white cloths and curious leather bound books placed at each setting, dinner guests were invited to indulge in a bit of whimsy for a two hour stretch on a cold January night.
Our mysterious host, the little chef, was nowhere to be found at this point, but as the lights dimmed and the maitre d’ welcomed us, he magically appeared…
from inside the books placed before us! As it turns out, the world’s smallest chef is no bigger than your pinkie finger. Mini in size, but mighty in personality, we quickly learned that Le Petit Chef is a BIG fan of a certain famous explorer…
Marco Polo. By nature, the two have very much in common – they are both intrepid travelers, free spirits, and excellent storytellers. This very special dinner, hosted and prepared by the little guy himself, turned out to be a culmination of bold travel experiences inspired by his idol, Marco and his famous 14th-century explorations that changed the world.
Told through the use of 3D projection mapping, Le Petit Chef cooks and adventures right before your eyes pulling you into his engaging world of storytelling and food presentation in the most fanciful of ways. Over six courses, he takes dinner guests to a myriad of exotic lands, near and far, with stops in places like India, Asia, the Himalayas (and more!) all the while preparing signature dishes from each culture. His adventures were so big in scale, he had to literally jump out of the book and walk around on the table in order to showcase the whole journey…
To give you a little perspective, that’s my wine glass in the top left corner and Le Petit Chef in the right-hand corner walking around on the tablecloth.
I realize this is a difficult situation to wrap your head around – a little guy walking and talking around your plate while you are also eating – so we’ll share this video so that you get a better idea of how it all works…
Each course was presented in its own dynamic and interesting way. The first course for example, (Ratatouille Terrine with Tomato Jam accompanied by a Roasted Green Slip Mussel with Garlic and Lemon) arrived in a mini suitcase just as the little chef was sailing across the ocean in search of the start of his trip.
As the story continued and the travel destinations became more exotic, the table landscape changed in a multitude of different ways…
In an instant, patterns and colors transformed into new shades and shapes…
while real food filled our bellies and visual artistry fueled a feast for our eyes. Magic met us at every turn.
By the time the cloudy mountaintops of the Himalayas were presented, and real-life fog flooded our plates, in both food form and story form, we all, everyone at the two long tables, had completely fallen in love with the little chef. When the last crumbs of dessert were whisked away and the little chef bid us good night, we knew we had experienced an incredible event. We had spent a glorious time with a new friend who not only fed ourselves but also fed our souls.
It’s the goal of the little chef to see as much of America as possible, which is good news for you. He might be heading your way next! Keep up with his city stops here… and if he’s in your neck of the woods, go and find him. Dine with him. Fall in love with him. And enjoy the enchantment he brings. It will be an unforgettable night full of magical storytelling. And if there is anything more than we need in this crazy world right now, it is more moments like this in our lives. Passion, excitement, and entertainment meet at the table of Le Petit Chef. As Marco Polo once said, “You’ll hear it for yourselves, and it will surely fill you with wonder.”
Look for Le Petit Chef’s tour schedule here.
If you live in the Nashville area, book your Dinner Time Story night at the Standard here.
And if you haven’t already visited, all you Nashvillians, stop by the Standard for a cocktail or two. You won’t regret it!
Cheers to Le Petit Chef for a most marvelous night and to Marco Polo for continuing to inspire centuries of travelers the world around.