Appeared in Nikkei Sangyo Newspaper, January 29, 2014
Dinner Lab (www.dinnerlab.com) organizes pop-up dinner events for its members. It started in August 2012 in New Orleans, a city famous for its food. In 2013, it expanded its business to New York and Los Angeles, and is scheduled to begin operation in San Francisco and Washington, DC in spring 2014.
As the word “lab” indicates, Dinner Lab provides a place of experimentation for up-and-coming chefs, who have honed their skills for years at renowned restaurants. These chefs are invited to present their unique and creative dishes to people who love trying new food; in turn, they receive valuable feedback from patrons as they candidly comment on the dishes served while eating together around a big table in a communal atmosphere.
Each Dinner Lab event is held at a different space, enticing its members not only with innovative cuisine but also with unexpected locations. For example, past events in New York took place in an opera house in Brooklyn as well as at a brewery.
The annual membership fee varies by city, and is between $150-175. (Membership slots have sold out in most cities where they already operate.) Every Wednesday, members receive an email with information about the upcoming dinner party, at least three weeks in advance. They can then purchase their tickets online. Each event has two seating times, 6:30pm and 9pm, and each seating accommodates approximately 40-50 people. The cuisine offered ranges from Asian, Middle Eastern to American. There has also been a dessert-only event, which received favorable reviews. Dinner Lab’s members reflect the diversity of American society as it brings together people of different professions and age groups.
In continuing to search for new cities to offer their exclusive culinary experience, Dinner Lab seeks to cultivate new platforms for emerging chefs to showcase their talents in an extremely competitive business.