Dinner Lab, a members-only supper club with outposts in New Orleans, Austin, and New York, will host its first dinner in Miami next week.
The location hasn't been disclosed yet. In other cities, Dinner Lab has popped up in abandoned churches, motorcycle shops, and mall parking lots. Wherever the setting, its mission is two-fold: to fill gaps in each town's dining scene and support young, budding chefs.
Everything else varies. The self-proclaimed social dining experiment prides itself on being "consistently inconsistent" with its menus, hosts, and locations.
Dinner Lab staffers have been in town for weeks prepping for the launch -- scoping out Miami's food scene, chatting with chefs, and getting to know local produce sources such as Urban Oasis Project.
With their events, though, they aren't looking to showcase any celebrity chefs. When Dinner Lab launched in New Orleans, it did so with a meal for 20 cooked by the company's chief technical officer and his wife. Today, Dinner Lab works primarily with sous-chefs and lead line cooks from restaurants -- not executive chefs.
"A lot of the time in restaurants, the executive chef isn't even there, and the chef de cuisine is doing all the cooking," culinary director Mario Rodriguez says. "We want to give chefs the exposure they need."
So these pop-ups, which occur twice a week and usually involve two or three seatings, fly in chefs from other cities and encourage menus that are exciting and fun.
"We skew away from Cajun or creole cooking in New Orleans. We could do a Cuban dinner in Miami, but it would just have to be something very creative," Rodriguez explains.
In a previous event dubbed "Desserted Relationships," Ellie Pegler, the pastry chef at Marea in New York, created a dessert-only meal inspired by her dating life.
Slated for Tuesday, January 21, Miami's first dinner will be hosted by Brandon Byrd, Dinner Lab's Austin-based full-time chef. Byrd's meal, named "Inside Lucky Peach," will feature cauliflower with brown butter soubise, jasmine raisins, Thai basil, and pine nuts; chilled ramen with pickled shiitake mushrooms, charred ginger, and fried peanuts; whipped tofu with key lime, coconut, and black sesame; and more.
The second meal, prepared by the supper club's Nashville chef, Byron Stithem, will be called "Native Nation" and take place Saturday, January 25.
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Only members may attend, and there are already about 258 of them in Miami. Annual memberships cost $150. Dinners, which include food and alcohol, are charged separately -- about $50 to $70 each.
To sign up or find out more, check out Dinner Lab's website.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.