In 2008, I read a New York Times article that piqued my interest in the growing movement of underground supper clubs. Underground supper clubs provide a unique dining experience in a non-traditional setting. At the very least, the meals are not served in a restaurant. More often, it could be the home of a volunteer, at a farm, or a temporary location. Often, diners can participate or at least watch the preparation of the food, and the food is served at communal tables, so diners have the opportunity to interact and meet new people. As an added component, many supper clubs focus on sustainable and organic food, and often embrace the foodie fascination with artisanal preparation (homemade pickles, sausage from scratch … you’ve got the picture).
Thanks to the power of the internet, I found a local Los Angeles club called Chicks with Knives, which, by the way, bills itself as a “roaming dinner party” rather than an underground supper club. I admit, I was slightly disappointed that I found it so easy to contact what I imagined was a mysterious, underground organization. But that disappointment was easily countered by the trepidation I felt when a friend and I found ourselves, one month later, knocking on a stranger’s door in Silverlake on a dark, weekday evening.
If you’re interested in new experiences, I highly recommend attending one of the Chicks with Knives dinners. The food was fabulous, seasonal, and creative, and the talented chefs can accommodate vegetarian or other dietary restrictions. It was also fascinating to have dinner at a stranger’s house, and to get to know all of the fellow diners. At the very least, it’s interesting to find out what motivates someone to sign up and attend a non-traditional, roaming dinner party with people they don’t know. For instance, at a second event I attended, I met a pair of dedicated bee keepers, who shared their funny stories of raising bees in suburban Los Angeles.
If you need more motivation – here’s the menu from my first Chicks with Knives dinner:
Autumn Salad with Walnuts & Persimmons
Braised Lamb with Cumin; Roasted Beets, Shallots & Carrots
Candied Fennel Cheesecake with Pomegranate Caramel Sauce
Rachael, one of the co-chef’s at the event, kindly supplied the recipe for the fennel cheesecake after the event.
More links to explore:
Taste of Pace Underground Supper Club – another Los Angeles area chef, she runs her own blog and supper club.
The Ghet – Research supper clubs in your own area. This is your opportunity to go even more underground.
Outstanding in the Field – A roving culinary adventure set at local farms, featuring locally grown and seasonal food, prepared by a guest chef. Tickets sell out extremely quickly, and this season’s tickets go on sale this Saturday, March 27!