thinking outside the kitchen

photo by Fred R. Conrad / New York Times

I loved Frank Bruni‘s recent New York Times story about ballsy chefs burning the rulebook to create unique dining experiences.

The highlights:

John Fraser leased a soon-to-be-demolished space in SoHo for a “temporary restaurant installation” called What Happens When. The lean bar is a mobile cart, chairs were bought on eBay for less than $10, and customers will set their own tables to keep staff costs down. Fraser is also funding the nine-month project with contributions from the microfinancing site, Kickstarter.

– Chicago super-chef Grant Achatz is leveraging the power of precise numbers to launch Next, where diners puchase advance tickets for a specific hour and a set menu.

– Manhattan chef Will Goldfarb has experimented with Picknick Smoked, a BBQ trailer in the financial district, and a two-day stint whipping up desserts in a borrowed SoHo bar space. It’s safe to say he’ll continue pushing the boundaries.

And the list goes on…

John Fraser / photo by Daniel Barry

I celebrated my last birthday at an underground supper club, and it was a delicious, memorable night that ended with a fraction of the typical restaurant bill.  The chef also provided advance wine pairing suggestions to enhance what could have been a jumbled BYOB collection.

Clearly, novelty and word-of-mouth buzz have the power to attract even the most jaded diners — especially if you’ve got the kitchen chops to back up your bravery. Pared-down dining makes sense, too, when people are still keeping a tight grip on their wallets.  When restaurants eschew convention to focus on making incredible food, we all reap the benefits.

Cheers to creativity that goes beyond the kitchen.

posted 5 Jan 11 in: business, food, media, retail. This post currently has 2 responses.

2 Responses so far. Add Your Own.

I want to hear more about the underground supper club! BTW, do you call it supper or dinner up there? I grew up calling it supper…and have now had to convert.

 

Megan — I was raised to call it dinner, but my parents both grew up on farms, and in rural places it always seems to be called supper. I think the phrase “supper club,” is meant to sound equal parts approachable and hip. Anyway, it was amazing, and I will write a separate post about it!

cheri / 11 Jan 11
 

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