We 'invaded' a swanky Manhattan loft for an exclusive, secret meal cooked by a Michelin-starred chef

Place Invaders 5228Sarah JacobsWe had a Meyer lemon tart for dessert.

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.

Sarah Jacobs

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.'

Sarah Jacobs

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.

Sarah Jacobs

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.

Sarah Jacobs

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.

Sarah Jacobs

Tickets for this particular event were priced at $192.99 (US$140) each.

Sarah Jacobs

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.

Sarah Jacobs

Drinks, like red and white wine, are included in the ticket price.

Sarah Jacobs

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.

Sarah Jacobs

'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.

Sarah Jacobs
Spiced Rohan Duck Breast, served with celery root, griddled ramps, wild mushrooms, sherry agrodolce

This location had an open floor plan, allowing guests to watch the master chef make our delicious meal.

Sarah Jacobs

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.

Sarah Jacobs

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.

Sarah Jacobs
Salad Lyonnaise, made with poached eggs, pickled ramps, bacon, frisée

Past invasions have included dinners in an abandoned 1950s-era New York penthouse, a graffiti-covered studio, and a Shanghai opium den-inspired condo.

Sarah Jacobs
Poached Shrimp, served with cauliflower, raisins, vadouvan, braised ramp

As of this year, they have hosted PlaceInvaders events in 12 different cities, from Seattle to the Berkshires, Chicago, Austin, and more.

Sarah Jacobs

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.

Sarah Jacobs
Meyer Lemon Tart served with blueberry and ricotta

At the end of the night, Smith-Adair (left) made a toast with Blount and Brown. The couple said that PlaceInvaders has allowed them to 'sustain a pretty interesting life.'

Sarah Jacobs

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