It takes me quite a while to work my way through the various publications we get in the mail, but when they are food related I dedicate myself to the task and persist until I have devoured every last word. The recent food issue of the New Yorker, which was delightful from cover to cover, featured a piece on the rise of the underground supper club. Those who know me will know this is an issue quite close to my heart. (Speaking of, there are only 3 spaces left for ‘CHINESE’ ON CHRISTMAS- if you are interested email firstname.lastname@example.org! Aaand end of plug.) Anyway, the article was quite fascinating – the most interesting point it raised for me was the role of the underground supper club as a status-booster for chefs interested in one day opening a professional restaurant. I have always thought of the central role of the underground supper club as simultaneously democratizing and “oligarchizing” (if I may make up a word there) the restaurant industry. On the one hand, it opens up the domain of running a quasi-restaurant to people who don’t have the resources to invest in a formal structure. On the other hand, it takes eating out to an entirely different level – instead of the experience centering on what the customer wants, it becomes about what the chef wants to provide. The customer becomes the recipient of the chef’s creativity and experimentation.
For those of us who keep kosher, pop-ups and underground clubs serve another purpose as well- providing good food and varied experiences to people that often have neither. For a population that has very few options if they want to go out for a meal, supper clubs offer a break from the monotony and tastes of cuisines and foods that may be too costly or time consuming for the mainstream kosher restaurants to offer.
What do you think about the rising trend of underground supper clubs and pop-ups? Have you been to a kosher pop-up or club? (There are several that operate around the US, particularly in the New York area)