From around 2010 to 2016, underground supper clubs were The Thing. You remember the fad: untrained chefs with substantial skills hosted interesting dinner parties in Arts District lofts or metalsmith shops. For about $200, you’d experience an intimate dinner with a roomful of strangers, where the menus were themed and you brought your own wine.
But the trend eventually peaked, with diners returning to the comfort of their regular neighborhood haunts or the newest buzzy opening down the block. Nat Gelb, a culinary entrepreneur from New York, wanted more. “I think that everyone is craving more meaningful experiences in their lives due to the disconnectedness we all experience as a result of technology,” he says.
So in 2016 he started Tasting Collective, a supper club built on the literal notion of food for thought. Members are treated to exclusive dining experiences at existing restaurants, wherein chefs test their newest ideas via six-course dinner, and then allow diners to provide them with feedback.
“The chefs put on a show of stuff they’re tinkering with and even talk about the inspiration of the dish while the diners are eating,” says Gelb. After members finish, they critique the dish on scorecards, ensuring a quicker R&D process for the chefs.
Tasting Collective began in New York City, and has since grown to 10 cities. LA’s inaugural event happens this Sunday (11/3). To gain entry, you have to request a membership and then pay an annual membership fee (the first 250 LA members will be able to join at a $99 charter member rate, versus the standard $165 annual rate).
Members then pay $50 per event, and can bring up to three guests to the tune of $70 per guest. You can request a membership via this form.
Joining the club will also score you perks at participating restaurants, such as discounts, complimentary cocktails, special dishes and chats with the chef. This Sunday’s event is at Japanese fusion restaurant Shibumi, and the following one will be at Jaffa.
Another added perk is the opportunity to enjoy Tasting Collective in other cities where it operates, exponentially deepening your level of food tourism and opening you up to new, meaningful experiences. As Gelb says, “We’re creating a human connection between chefs and diners.”
This article was featured in the InsideHook LA newsletter. Sign up now for more from the Southland.