Enjoying dinner cooked by a Michelin-starred chef inside a photographer’s Park Avenue loft is not how I typically spend my Friday nights. But at a recent event I attended with PlaceInvaders — a travelling pop-up dining experience that takes place in private homes while its owners are away — that became a reality.
Chef Danny Brown had been looking for a place to serve his meals since his Michelin-starred Wine Bar & Kitchen shuttered late last year due to disagreements with the landlord. So when PlaceInvaders asked Brown to collaborate on their weekend-long New York City run, he couldn’t say no.
The event took place in a gorgeous Flatiron loft, and we got the invite. Ahead, see what our experience with PlaceInvaders was like.
PlaceInvaders was founded by couple Hagan Blount and Katie Smith-Adair, who connected over their mutual love for both food and real estate. 'We were inspired to find a way to travel and live in the world's most amazing apartments,' they told Business Insider.
Together, they find prime real estate spots in various cities around the US and rent them out for short periods of time. They host ticketed dinners or brunch parties of between 15 to 25 people. They have even called themselves 'the ultimate real estate tourists.'
Locations and guest chefs are not revealed to attendees until 24 hours before the event. The goal is to keep guests on their toes and create an element of surprise.
As we waited in the lobby to be escorted to our secret location, the excitement built. We sipped on Amber Road cocktails made with bourbon, aperol, lemon, and maple syrup.
We entered a gorgeous, 1,300-square-foot space with 13.5-foot ceilings. We found out later that the loft is owned by a professional fashion photographer whose work has been featured in GQ, Vogue, and Shape. Michelin-starred chef Danny Brown was enlisted for the evening's meal.
However, prices range based on the menu and location. Pictured here is a canapé made with ramp pesto and hon shimeji mushroom and served on rye toast.
For the first year and half of their business, Blount and Smith-Adair did all of the cooking, prepping, and serving themselves. As interest has grown, they have enlisted help.
'We learn so much watching what our chef partners come up with in the kitchen, and we can focus on hosting, and getting to know our guests,' they said.
This location had an open floor plan, allowing guests to watch the master chef make our delicious meal.
Most PlaceInvaders events are hosted around one large table, encouraging conversation between the diners. 'After starting our business, we learned that we would also meet some adventurous and interesting friends in the process, including our hosts, chef partners, and guests,' Blount and Smith-Adair said.
While they don't follow an exact formula to find spaces to rent, the couple does look for places that have a history, unique design, or unexpected location, or that are owned by a noted figure.
Past invasions have included dinners in an abandoned 1950s-era New York penthouse, a graffiti-covered studio, and a Shanghai opium den-inspired condo.
As of this year, they have hosted PlaceInvaders events in 12 different cities, from Seattle to the Berkshires, Chicago, Austin, and more.
As they have put more partnerships in place, the couple is revisiting some of the cities they have already invaded. '(We want to host in) more cool homes, more cities, (and) maybe a new country,' they said.
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