In New York, where the newest “It” places changes daily, it’s nice to see that some chefs still think it’s cool to fly under the radar.Our friends at Gusta, a new website devoted to publicizing under-the-radar dining experiences around the globe, helped us dig up some of the best secret pop-up restaurants and private dinners in the five boroughs.
They include a bargain-priced beer and food tasting and a veggie-happy supper club.
Secret Restaurant stemmed from Chef Ethan Knechel's desire to create as much happiness as possible.
'Fundamentally, it came out of the belief that people are good, that people can do greater good when they work together, and that food can bring good people together,' Knechel wrote in an email.
Knechel's travelling supper club, which hosts dinner events in spaces such as his apartment, is not for profit, which means it often loses money on events.
'It is not a terribly sensational concept, nor a viable business plan, nor a revolutionary idea-- but people seem to enjoy Secret Restaurant,' Knechel wrote.
Find it: Check out Secret Restaurant's events on Gusta
Brooklyn-bred Chef Tessa said she was lucky to have grown up eating amazing food. She's translating that luck into Methods and Madness, a pop-up restaurant she started to cook for friends.
'I created Methods and Madness as a way to explore their processes and the 'madness' behind why they continue to create,' she told Gusta. 'It also keeps me fresh and engaged in the world outside of the kitchen.
A past event was held at Jo's, a space on Elizabeth Street, to celebrate a new typeface released by Commercial Type.
Find it: Check out Methods and Madness' events on Gusta
As an architect, Chef Benjamin Walmer brings a keen eye to every culinary event he hosts.
'Like my architectural projects, every event is its own thing,' he said, citing one dinner party he held in Nigeria where they ate an animal that had been caught that same day.
His other events include a dinner held in New York City in conjunction with Michelin in New York.
Walmer is quick to stress Highlands Dinner Club is not a restaurant. Rather, its a social experience where diners can interact with each other and their food.
'I guess for me, I see food and architecture as the same thing,' he said. 'They are builder materials essentially. Highlands Dinner Club serves as a way to experiment with the table.'
Find it: Check out Highlands Dinner Club's events on Gusta
Photo by Brandon Stanley
After a childhood filled with traditions from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, among others, Chef Charles became a self-taught chef specializing in global fusion cuisine.
After earning an MBA in marketing and working for consulting firms, Charles turned to his culinary passions, opening his underground supper club, where he 'gets to unleash his creativity and be truly innovative during this exclusive events that span the globe,' according to his website.
Charles' hosts his pop-up dinner in spaces across the city, including apartments.
Find it: Check out ChefCharlesNYC's events on Gusta
Bunna Cafe is New York's first Ethiopian-style coffeehouse.
The cafe's brick-and-mortar location is set to open in Williamsburg later this year, but in the meantime, it operates as a travelling cafe.
'We are hosting dinner parties and collaborative headline events around the city -- on rooftops, parking lots, friends' apartments,' Chef Sam Saverance wrote in a self-penned review on Yelp.
While at Bunna, patrons are able to experience an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, which involves making coffee from a raw bean.
Find it: Soon to open in Williamsburg; check out events on Gusta
With their roaming supper club, Chef Jason Anello and his brother are on a mission to 'bring back dinnertime the way only two Italian-American brothers can,' Anello wrote in an email.
The two aim to serve New Yorkers simple, yet tasty, cuisine while promoting dinner table conversation.
Dinners are often held in unusual spots, such as rooftop.
As an added bonus, diners can enjoy their meal while watching the movie Anello and his brother project on the side of a nearby building.
Find it: Check out Forking Tasty Suppers' events on Gusta
'It is an experiment in socialisation at it's core,' according to the pop-up eatery's website.
BigLITTLE Get Together is all about the theme. Chefs Lauren Gerrie and Flannery Klette-Kolton host theme-based dinners, with most themes reflecting literature or television, in interesting or unusual spaces, Gerrie said.
'We basically create a restaurant in someone's home that is totally reflective of the theme we choose,' Gerrie said.
The pair's feminine touch also sets them apart from their competition. They strive to create a welcoming space that won't be intimidating for guests.
'We really do consider ourselves to be innovative,' Gerrie said. 'It's a whole experience.'
Find it: Check out BigLITTLe Get Together's events on Gusta
Photo by Brandon Stanley
The idea for Ted & Amy Supper Club stemmed from Chef Kara Masi's desire to cook for her friends but not being able to do so in the way she wanted.
'My friends told me they would pay me to cook for them and Ted & Amy's was born,' Masi wrote in an email.
While Masi's supper club was originally intended to feed her friends, word got out and strangers started purchasing tickets to Masi's dinners, which were often held in her apartment.
'It made for quite the experience since the dinners were at my home and often I never knew who would walk through the door,' she wrote.
Find it: In Brooklyn; Check out Ted & Amy Summer Club's events on Gusta
Brooklyn Fork and Spoon, a creation of Chef Marnie Miskit calls itself a vegetarian-based supper club 'where just about everything can be eaten with a fork and spoon.'
Past menus have boasted quinoa pasta with butter bean sage sauce, goat cheese mac n' cheese, and cranberry cake with warm melted butter.
In an effort to promote socialisation, the secret eatery hosted singles night in December 2011, proclaiming 'if you haven't found your snuggle buddy for the winter yet -- here's your chance...'
Find it: Check out Brooklyn Fork and Spoon's events on Gusta
Photo by Brandon Stanley
While the location of Manchester Pub doesn't change, it's monthly pairing of a five-course meal and different beers for only $50 sets it apart from its competitors.
When Lawrence Chan and his business partner bought the bar a couple years ago, Chan said they wanted to keep the neighbourhood feel of the bar while also doing something new.
'During these dinners, when most of our diners are part of their dinner, there is still a bar feel, a bar flow that comes in throughout the night,' Chan said.
The tastings also include brewery representatives and chefs who explain why the specific beer and food pairings work together.
Find it: On 49th and Second Ave.; check out Manchester Pub's dinners on Gusta
Chef: Spencer Walker
Find it: Check out MOPAC's events around New York on its website
MOPAC aims to be the Facebook of the food world, calling the pop-up restaurant 'a unique, hip, and fun way to social network using food to make connections.'
The cooking class group, which holds classes in off-the-wall spots such as Tammany Hall and Think Coffee, promises patrons will learn to make exotic dishes they can make at home and they'll engage in 'social networking activities based on food!'
As a chef in a corporate cafeteria, Chef Joe Johnson was craving some culinary creativity. Thus, Chef JJ Says... was born.
The appeal behind his pop-up restaurant is the variety and creativity he brings. Plus, it offers a wide range of people access to his food, Johnson said.
For his last event, which he dubbed Expressions, Johnson covered the tables with scribble paper and handed out crayons to his customers.
'I wanted to know your expression through the food,' said Johnson, who hosts events across New York City.
The difference between his food and that of other pop-up restaurants can be seen in the care he puts into his dishes, he said.
'There's aways this good sense of air,' he said, adding that his food is prepared in the midst of laughter and love.
Find it: Check out Chef JJ Says...' events on Gusta
Photo by Brandon Stanley
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