For years, Place Invaders has traveled across the United States for its roving dinner series.
Now the rogue pop-up is partnering with the Miami restaurant Phuc Yea to invade the Magic City for the weekend.
Miami has seen its fair share of collaborative dinners and pop-ups, but Place Invaders' concept makes it unique: Invade someone's house for the evening and turn it into a secret, exclusive dinner party for less than two dozen people.
New York-based couple Katie Smith-Adair and Hagan Blount started Place Invaders as a hobby of sorts by hosting weekend dinners in 2014. Six months later, it became a career, with the duo traveling to more than a dozen cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles. Smith-Adair says of introducing Miami to Place Invaders: "We want to travel and explore new cities. We're a company of two people, and there's a balance of how often we start a new city. Miami has always been on our radar." When the couple forged a partnership with Zacapa rum, the opportunity to host a dinner series in Miami finally came about.
This weekend, Place Invaders, in collaboration with Phuc Yea's Cesar Zapata and Aniece Meinhold, will host three dinners. The location and menu? To be determined.
"There are two things that set our events apart," Smith-Adair says. "The unexpected and the mysteriousness of it. Diners don't know where they're going; they don't know what they're going to eat. So that attracts adventurous people."
The fact that it's in a private residence also adds a social vibe to it, the Place Invaders cofounder says. "You feel like your guard is down. You're hanging in a house party." Smith-Adair is quick to point out, however, that the owners of the house are aware of the dinner party.
The upcoming dinners have yet one more layer to them: an immigrant-friendly theme, inspired by Zapata's experiences. Meinhold says, "Place Invaders reached out to us about a month and a half ago, and we started talking about ideas. What's hot right now is the whole immigrant issue."
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Meinhold explains that immigrants are the backbone of the culinary industry — from workers in the field to the people who set food on the table. She describes her partner's experience as an immigrant. "Cesar fled Colombia at 9. He would literally trip over dead bodies in the park back home. His parents moved the family to the United States and had two jobs each. Cesar cooked for his siblings. He didn't go to college, choosing to go to culinary school. He worked hard and made something of himself. That's a lot."
Though the menu won't be released, it will be based on Zapata's culinary journey of the cities in which he's lived and worked. "Every city has an immigrant culture. That's the American experience."
Place Invaders/Phuc Yea Dinners
Friday, March 31, at 7 p. m.; Saturday, April 1, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 2, at 7 p.m. (A fourth dinner, Thursday, April 6, might be added; see website for updates.) Locations will be divulged via email the morning of the event (and will be within a five-mile radius of downtown Miami). The dinners cost $100 per person via placeinvaders.com and include cocktails, wine pairings, tax, and gratuities.