Enthusiastic foodies who weary of standard restaurant dining can find these guerrilla operations in most large cities around the country, and increasingly around the world. Why the clandestine nature and “underground” quality? Well, serving food to the public without a license and often on someone else’s property is not exactly legal.
Each supper club host has his or her own reasons for joining the underground. Some are aspiring chefs trying to test out the restaurant scene. Most however are just ordinary gourmands looking to meet people, feed people, and show off their fabulous sautéing skills. While there is variation among supper clubs, the overarching goal is to provide a gourmet dining experience in a setting more intimate than a restaurant.
And instead of dining with friends or family, guests most often attend alone to meet like-minded adventure seekers and exchange avant-garde recipes over homemade tomato sorbet. In addition, most underground supper clubs have a particular theme. Many choose to highlight local and sustainable ingredients. One host selects each dish based on his favorite art.
Some dinners do take place in the chef’s own kitchen, with the number of invitees capped as space allows. Larger events require larger venues, such as deserted fields or hunting lodges, with each guest given specific directions to the feast in their invitations. Other possible locations? Grocery stores, galleries, restaurant industrial kitchens, even parking lots. And while many hosts do keep their parties at home, others move locations each dinner to help avoid detection.
Most carry fake names and at least one has been known to don a ninja mask in an effort to protect his identity…While certain websites and forums do exist to help guide interested attendees toward particular supper clubs, finding does not always mean attending. Many require lengthy applications to even be considered for an invitation. And waitlists can be months long. But the exclusive nature is part of that underground draw… If interested, start looking now and maybe you’ll get an invite in a year or so…
Elizabeth Leuin is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . The Missing Link: Food & Ag appears on Wednesdays.