SD supper clubs stimulate social palates

by Sandra De La Torre

Some resemble scavenger hunts or flash mobs. Others have top-secret rendezvous, exclusivity and a whole lot of mystery. However, anyone looking for an opportunity to enhance their dining experiences may find underground supper clubs to be the perfect fit.

What occurs within each supper club varies, depending on the host‘s vision, but the main idea is to hold a secret dinner or event. Some locations may be revealed mere hours before the event via email or through social media websites such as Facebook or Twitter.

This trend is taking place globally, from the UK to San Diego. “The trend started in food-centric cities like San Francisco, but in the last year, groups have been popping up across the country,” “Secret Suppers” author Jenn Garbee said in an interview with CNN. These events are exclusive because participants and chefs often host dinners in their own kitchens without a license. This offers a more relaxed atmosphere where chefs can show their work to a smaller audience.

Some events are fully booked within a matter of hours. San Diego offers a number of underground supper clubs and groups, each with a special focus. Le Dîner á San Diego will be hosting its first event May 25. According to co-founder Nicole Benjamin, it aims to “celebrate the pleasure of dining elegantly and grandly.” Le Dîner’s website describes the event as a spontaneous, elegant “pop-up picnic” dinner feast inspired by other “flash mob” dinner parties that have taken place in Europe and Canada. While Le Dîner held a San Francisco event last year, this is its first time to land in Southern California.

The event’s location is usually unknown and revealed to guests only two hours before. What is known is that it’s held outside and guests are asked to dress in all white. Participants must plan their outfits, as well as bring their own meals and chairs. Only tables and trash bags are provided, as this is considered a “no trace left behind event.” “People go out, it’s incredible,” Benjamin said.

The event allows participants to use their imaginations. According to Benjamin, in the past, each member of a group focuses on one aspect of the dinner. One will focus on the food, while others put together the table settings and outfits. Tickets for Le Dîner á San Diego are $100 for a table, which seats four people.

The San Diego Burger Mob is another option for burger lovers looking for a more relaxed setting. Joining the mob is simple. According to its constitution, all participants have to do is join the Google group, go to the assigned location every month and vote for the burgers they liked the most. All restaurants must be in San Diego County, and burgers can’t cost more than $14. Some restaurants assigned earlier in the year including LeRoy’s and Banging Burger.

Next month’s location will be Rocky’s Crown Pub. Participants can go any time during the month and can even use Twitter to communicate with other mob members by following @SDBurgerMob or using the hashtag #sdburgermob. Thirsty locals with a penchant for all things eco-friendly may want to try Green Drinks.

This is a group for those who work with environmental causes, but everyone is welcome and encouraged to join. The group’s only request is that participants mingle and meet new people at every meeting. Events are usually held once a month and there is no specific agenda. It’s simply a place to “share insights and provoke and exasperate and inspire and delight each other.”

Green Drink groups exist on a national and international level. For the month of April, the Green Drink group in San Diego met at Home Brews and Gardens. The theme of the night was to discuss truth, food justice and craft beer for all mankind. Whether locals are looking to be fancy and spontaneous or solely want to try delicious meals and meet people in a creative way, underground supper clubs and events are worth exploring.