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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Clandestine Chef Brings Dining Above Ground for Flash Mob Dinner

Posted By on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 9:30 AM

First Chef John brought underground dining to St. Louis with Entre:Underground. Now he's making dining aboveground, public and spontaneous with Flash Mob Dinners.

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Chef John hosted his first flash-mob dinner last Friday, May 14. About 24 hours beforehand, he posted notice of the event on Facebook and Twitter, revealing only that it would be a three-course meal served family style, for $25. Another $5 gained diners access to the PBR cooler. Otherwise it was BYOB, and BYO plates and silverware.

"I wanted to do something different," Chef John tells Gut Check. "I had been thinking for some time about how to reach a new demographic -- folks like me that could afford to come to a 25-dollar dinner.

"Additionally, I was trying to think of a way to not use my e-mail list [the point of contact for Entre:Underground dinners], but rather just take advantage of social media."

He did announce the menu in advance on his website: chicken-liver pâté and marinated olives; a salad of local spinach, bacon, goat cheese and hazelnuts; vanilla-scented pork loin and spring onion risotto; vanilla macarons with foie fat buttercream. Not announced in advance? The meal's location -- the home of his business partner. Diners were given the address at the last minute.

Chef John's already looking at evolving his idea. "I think in the future, I would like to do it where the announcement comes out only a few hours ahead of time. That would be more flash-mobby, I think. In order to do it with only a few hours notice, I will need to have done a bunch of these and reached a critical mass of people clued in to their existence.

"I also hope to do the dinners in more public spaces, parks, et cetera. Also i think they will take place during the week, not on the weekend," he adds. "The whole thing is an experiment at the moment."

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