Yum, yum is all we have to say! The Meandering Traveler recently sailed for two nights (just a quickie, introductory voyage) on the new Celebrity Ascent. While at sea, though, one highlight was dining at the fun, fanciful Le Petit Chef experience in the Grand Bistro restaurant.
Think about colorful, creative animation, combined with a simple, yet tasty menu. Then imagine animated scenes not only reflected on– but actually moving across — your dinner plate and dining table. Therein lies the fun of Le Petit Chef.
And no, it’s not just for kids. During our sailing, the eatery’s tables were filled with all adults, and they were having a hoot of a time.
In fact, no one could keep their eyes off the action unfolding on the table. The Le Petit Chef culinary character actually “climbed over” the edge of our plate and then walked across it.
Simultaneously as the animated scenes unfold, a voice telling the chef’s tale is broadcast throughout the eatery. The animation comes and goes, with the food courses served to diners in between the table action. Yes, guests have enough time to enjoy their dinner.
Celebrity Ascent: Quite the Show!
Let’s just say, “It’s quite the show!” Le Petit Chef is best characterized as a fusion of cuisine and entertainment. On one hand, the creative, customized 3D table animation art is created by Skullmapping.
On the other, the menu is crafted under the supervision of Chef Cornelius Gallagher, Celebrity’s Michelin-star chef.
“While the experience itself isn’t new, Celebrity introduces fresh, new Le Petit Chef menus and animation regularly,” according to Shelby Steudle, president, Pavlus Travel. She tells us that Le Petit Chef launched with Celebrity Edge in December 2018, and was “an instant hit with guests.”
Today, guests can experience the fun and creativity of Le Petit Chef across the Celebrity fleet (except the line’s smaller Galapagos vessels). On Edge-class ships, the action unfolds in the Grand Bistro. On other ships it’s available in Qsine.
The Magical Cooking Book
During our sailing, Le Petit Chef served up a fixed “Magical Menu,” and a small printed paper menu is provided to diners.
We also immediately noticed “Le Petit Chef – The Magical Cooking Book,” directly in front of us on the table (see photo above right). In fact, it occupied the spot where typically one’s charger plate would be.
The book was, of course, authored by Le Petit Chef. But when we opened it, there was nothing inside – just blank pages. Most people shut the book.
Presto, soon the animation began and the pages “came to life” as servers encouraged us to again open this book. What was plain white paper with no images or writing then took on a magical quality (with animation projected from hardware discreetly incorporated into the ceiling).
Course One: “A Magical Soup”
Our first course was “Magical Soup,” and here’s the recipe sprawled across the book’s pages:
- Step One: Magical Crispy Bacon Slices
- Step Two: Mystical Cheese Bites
- Step Three: Three Drops of Goblin Tears
- Step Four: A Pinch of Fairy Dust.
Then, the animation — which promised it “will make your wishes come true” stopped and the voice tale ended. Our servers were at the tables to serve that first, “Magical Soup” course.
It’s best described as “Creamy Potato Leek” soup prepared with toasted brioche, Gruyere cheese, crispy Speck ham and chive oil. Smooth and flavorful, it was a nice, simple start to the dinner.
Adult Fun, Kid Fantasy
We loved observing adults of all ages totally delighted by the animation action. They pulled out their Smartphones at every turn to capture all the action.
Simply put, Le Petit Chef makes all travelers kids once again — at least for one unique dinner!
Next Courses: “Artificial Intelligence” and “Magic Potion”
Soon, it was time for our second course, called “Artificial Intelligence.” But in reality, this was “Citrus Poached Cod Loin,” with squash veloute, snow peas and citrus fennel salad (see photo below). The cod was succulent and cooked to perfection. Also, we truly enjoyed the flavors of this dish.
After we finished our cod, it was again time for Le Petit Chef’s animation. The chef was concocting a meal atop our table. It was designed to replicate our soon-to-be-served main course.
That was a savory “Beef Tenderloin En Croute.” Here below is first the animation, and then the actual dish.
We can’t stress enough how tender and succulent this beef tenderloin was. It simply melted in our mouth and was the best of its class that we’ve had in quite some time. The photo above really doesn’t do it justice color-wise, but we added it to show readers the ample size and presentation.
Our Final Course: “Candy Land” Dessert
Finally, our dessert, the fourth and last course of the evening, was “Chocolate Cremeux” with raspberry coulis, chocolate crumble, Yuzu caviar and raspberry sorbet (see photo below). This was certainly enticing for anyone with a passion for both chocolate and raspberry flavoring.
More About Le Petit Chef
It’s good to know that Le Petit Chef also offers “The Other Menu,” printed on the back of the paper table menu. It consists of the following:
- “Crispy Lamb and Asparagus Salad” with a poached egg and truffle dressing.
- “Summer Farfalle Pasta” with snow crab, beurre monte, parmesan and crispy corn.
- “Pan-Seared Halibut” with potato, sauteed spinach, black sesame emulsion and curry oil.
- “Matcha Tea Mount Blanc,” a pumpkin green tea ganache with orange-Yuzu sauce.
We also learned from Celebrity that guests ordering this alternative menu will have their courses served at the same time as folks ordering the “Magical Menu.”
As for drinks, Le Petit Chef offers wines by the bottle and the glass. Wines by the glass range from $8 to $16 a glass.
In addition, diners can sip on their choice of four different cocktails for $14 apiece. Those include Lemonade Provencale, L’Aperitif, Champs-Elysees and Sail 75. The latter is a mix of Beefeater gin, white tea and Champagne.
More Le Petit Chef Details
Where is Le Petit Chef on board a Celebrity ship? On Celebrity Ascent, for example, it’s presented in the Grand Bistro. It unfolds in that eatery as well for all Edge-class ships. On other vessels, the action gets under way within Qsine.
On Celebrity Ascent and 12 other Celebrity ships, the specialty Le Petit Chef experience is offered two times nightly on most cruises. Dining times are typically 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Celebrity recommends this experience for both adults and children 6 years or older. Since this cruise line’s product is premium not luxury (so not as many inclusions), Le Petit Chef carries a $60 per person charge.
In our view, though, it’s definitely worth that added fee for something truly unique at sea. We’re not alone. The concept has proven wildly popular with guests.
Reservations for Le Petit Chef are an absolute “must,” according to Pavlus’ Steudle. “If you’re already booked on a Celebrity cruise, talk to your personal travel planner about how to reserve this.”
If not booked, check out the Celebrity Ascent and its upcoming itineraries at this Celebrity website page. “Then give Pavlus Travel a call or chat online with one of our personal travel planners to learn more,” she adds.
One new option is just over the horizon. Owned by Royal Caribbean Group, Celebrity just celebrated the keel laying of its new Celebrity Xcel. That’s the next Edge-class ship setting sail in 2025.
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