Frank Chen

Frank Chen

test the waters before diving

Of the existing shenanigans that I pursued in 2019, starting a supper club came close to being one of the more rewarding "hobbies" this year, if you could call it a hobby.

The premise was slightly different from normal supper clubs. A normal supper club usually brings together 10-12 folks who may or may not know each other, and the host carefully curates the experience so that everyone meets someone new, and serendipity happens. Food-wise, it's the same. The host cooks and everything is covered.

My place could really only support 4-5 people, and with my partner in tow, that meant I could only support and cook for 2-3 guests. 2-3 people is hardly 10-12, and therefore, it was important that I get the personalities and familiarity of the guests right. This wasn't a problem, since I was using this supper club as an opportunity to catch up with friends and be of service. I was making this supper club for selfish reasons, really. They call that "scratching your own itch."

I wasn't just going to make it easy. I was going to be the chef, cook, and bartender, on the day of the supper club, and in the weeks leading up to the supper club. This meant treating the experience as if my guests were arriving at a restaurant. Menu experimentation, prep work, on-the-spot cooked meals, hot plates, fresh cocktails, mise en place, stock, timing each course, the works. I was and have been infinitely curious about the professional cooking environment, going as far as trying my hand as a stage back in 2010 at Spago in Los Angeles. It didn't work out, maybe for worse or for better. I'm recreating my own experience now as a one-man team, although I'll give credit where it's due (my partner is much better at baking and is a consistent source of inspiration for desserts). I'll say after doing several of these that it is hard fucking work, and I'm not even serving a crazy amount of people.

The last tidbit was guest involvement. I solicited input from my guests 3-4 weeks in advance on three agreed upon ingredients that they'd like to see in a meal. For example, if they wanted to see chicken gizzards, radish, and oranges in the dinner, then that's what would show up, either in the aperitif, appetizer, main, or dessert. They wouldn't be the only ingredients, but they would be prominently featured.

The last-last tidbit was absolutely no payments of any kind would be accepted. None of that bottle of wine shit, chocolates crapped out by cats and hand-picked by your great-grandmother, or bringing your own baked shit. Cash and credit are not accepted. Fuck off with your cryptocurrency wallets. No payments.

I have all of this on a Google spreadsheet, which currently acts as the sign up sheet. Once invited, all guests are free to invite themselves as often as they wish.

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