Comedians famously tour underground clubs to try out material that isn't ready for prime time. They get to tool around with jokes and see how they play before going in front of massive audiences and getting heckled, or worse, hearing crickets. They can say to themselves, "Hey, maybe that one about the mother-in-law, Hanukkah, and the turkey isn't such a great idea after all."
And in exchange, the audience gets to see Chris Rock for pennies on the dollar.
But chefs enjoy no such buffer. Once they're out in the world, they're expected to come correct, each and every time. They've got no real space for experimentation, improvisation, or tinkering, except for behind the scenes with other fellow cooks.
And what fun is that for you, the diner?
You've been to all the cool restaurants, you've got the Sexy Chef calendar on the bathroom wall, and you know which pop-up is where this week. What's next for you?
The phrase "underground dinner" induces goosebumps in any serious food scenester. We want to know the secrets, the things that the average diner does not, and we want to get out of the dining room of the common man and into the off-limits places "the man" tells us we're not allowed to go.
Well, dinner lab offers all of those things, and then some.
1. It gets the chef, and you, out of the restaurant and into some really cool places: the half-finished condo building you've had your eye on, the airplane hangar, the rooftops, the helipad.
2. You'll get a chance to sample food cooked by chefs you may not have heard of before. Dinner Lab specifically tries to highlight the sous chefs and lesser known individuals who may be working as part of the kitchen crew in a name restaurant. In fact, chefs and sous chefs might swap roles for a night, with the sous getting a chance to try out their own vision, and get a moment in the spotlight.
3. You get to provide feedback -- both as a means of letting Dinner Lab know how you enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) your experience, so that they can improve future events, and so that the chef can tweak his menus (or not tweak) based on the feedback.
4. After a $125 membership fee, which gets you access to the calendar listing events that take place roughly every month, each individual event is relatively inexpensive, around $60 each, which includes the meal, libations, and gratuity.
5. The best chefs get flown around by Dinner Lab to different markets, so not only will you get a chance to sample work from the best local talent, its a way to eat around the country, sans plane ticket.
The first Minneapolis event is scheduled for March 20 with Chicago chef Danny Espinoza. The five-course Mexican menu includes aguachile, cinnamon roasted beet salad, flautas de cochinita pibil, mole de Zarzamora, and a desert of atole y naranja (hot corn and masa beverage with orange cake and rosemary meringue). You can purchase your membership at Dinner Lab's website.
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