Every now and then, if we’re lucky, we’re blessed with an “ah-ha” moment. My most recent moment was brought to me by a close friend who not long ago asked, “With all of the formal training you have, why aren’t you showing people all you can really do?” That statement was the defining moment behind my new approach to dining. I knew I wanted to show Memphis, the city that I love, not just another side of me, but also a new dining experience, but which element did I want to share?
I’ve worked in every style of dining: home – style, bistro, banquets, catering, etc., but fine dining trumps all. The tedious and meticulous prep that often takes hours, the selection of plates and color schemes, picking the best product according to season, deciding which ones pair best with each meal, figuring out the appropriate proportions for each course, leaving just enough room for the next… the list for proper preparation goes on. Nothing compares to the stress of every minute detail being perfect, knowing that your guest is paying for and expecting high quality. As a chef, one of the best feelings in the world is pushing the plate out of the serving window to the head chef and he just wipes the rim and hands it to the server, meaning no critique is needed. There’s such an unexplainable sense of accomplishment; you just did a great thing.
However that moment is short lived, as no sooner than you pause to take it all in, another order rings in.
I became kind of addicted to that rush and I realized this when I took the job at the Del Coronado. It was so peaceful and everything was always in order. Never any screaming or yelling- it drove me nuts. Some days I’d feel slightly depressed because I so desperately wanted to see one altercation or hear one person yell an explicit word. I knew I had to get away. I needed chaos. I needed to feel the pressure of perfection or have a dish hurled back at me because it lacked proper execution. I know most people would say this is insane but there is a passion about the kitchen that cannot be explained, and it is that passion, along with my friend’s urging that inspired my newest project, the Sacred 8 Supper Club Series.
Let’s break down the different dining concepts:
Fast Food Fast Food restaurants emphasize speed of service. Operations range from small-scale street vendors with food carts to multi-billion dollar corporations like McDonald's and Burger King.
Fast Casual - Fast casual restaurants are primarily chain restaurants, such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread. More of the food is prepared at the restaurant which is not the case at fast food chains.
Casual Dining - A casual dining restaurant is a restaurant that serves moderately priced food in a casual atmosphere. Except for buffet-style restaurants, casual dining restaurants typically provide table service.
Family Style - Family style restaurants are a type of casual dining restaurants where food is often served on platters and the diners serve themselves.
Fine Dining - Fine dining restaurants are full service restaurants with specific meal courses. Décor of such restaurants features higher-quality materials, with an eye towards the "atmosphere" desired by the restaurateur. The wait staff is usually highly trained and often wears more formal attire. Food portions are visually appealing. Fine dining restaurants have certain rules of dining which visitors are generally expected to follow, often including a dress code.
Again, fine dining is by far my favorite style and it is this style that I want to further expose Memphis to, but in a fun way. There are very few fine dining restaurants here compared to other cities, so when I moved back a few years ago, I immediately noticed the gap in that experience. Simply adding another fine dining experience wasn’t enough, however. Something else was missing and I knew what it was.
Another huge missing piece was that Memphis had no supper clubs! The supper club is another concept that is major in other cities. Supper Clubs are secret suppers held in secret locations with secret menus (A lot of secrets, huh?) Usually held by a chef of stature or of some elite status, these have become extremely trendy over the last decade. Although the locations are secret upon arrival, guests are never let down as there is a great atmosphere, beautiful décor and top-notch food. I’ve been invited to a few of these while residing in California and now I’ve decided to start the trend here.
Inspired by a movie I recently watched, Point Break, I decided to put together 8 exclusive dining events from Fall, 2016 through Summer, 2017. Each event will be held at a different venue, with a different theme and menu each time. Locations will be revealed to ticket purchasers the day of the event as to keep with the mystique of the event.
The S8cred 8 Supper Club Series will be more than a restaurant, a gallery, a bar or a club; it will be all of the above in one. It’s a place where like-minds find each other and go home with a story at the end of the night. It brings you a time full of spectacle, from exciting food concepts, exhilarating music, and the most eloquent decor. Everyone, even you, plays a role, and fills in the white canvas that is the S8cred 8 Supper Club.
I hope you’ll wear your best attire because when you walk through the doors of the selected venue and into our world, an exciting time awaits you. Pay no mind to etiquette and good table manners. Put aside your existing culinary dogma and open your mind. Let the atmosphere amaze you as you discover a new dining experience.