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Snapshot: Going underground

The most exclusive tables are not in restaurants these days.

Certain chefs are setting up supper clubs of sorts, serving elaborate meals to a select group who appreciates community and fine cuisine. Word-of-mouth advertising and the mode of entry—the “club’s” email list—add to the exclusivity. The locations of these “culinary speakeasies” remain undisclosed to the public, revealed only to those who earn a chair, or in one case, a pillow.

4 Course Vegan, Brooklyn, New York
Chef Matteo Silverman invites adventurous eaters into his loft to experience a four-course vegan meal, prepared entirely from local ingredients. In this comfortable setting, conversation is an important side dish, as the guests are exposed to a new way of thinking about food. According to Silverman, “At least half our guests are not even vegetarian, just people who enjoy good quality, seasonal cuisine. And they usually leave pleasantly surprised.”

Aux Chiens Lunatiques, Paris, France
For six months out of the year, David Tanis of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse treats curious diners to gourmet meals in his 17th century Parisian apartment. Translated as “At the Mad Dog’s Place,” this intimate restaurant seats up to 12 guests who have reserved the coveted spots and utensils for dishes like braised guinea hen and plum crostata.

Ghetto Gourmet, Oakland, California
Ghetto Gourmet differs in its lack of a consistent kitchen—or chef. Founded in Oakland, California, by Jeremy Townsend, this “wandering supper club” incorporates music, dancing and even the occasional game into the experience. Guests feast on diverse cuisines, enjoying everything from dim sum to ceviche while conversing from pillows set on a generous host’s living room floor. 

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