Perhaps it’s not exactly fair to say that supper clubs are the new food trucks — secret dining societies were coming online during the heyday of mobile food, after all. But it’s impossible not to see similarities in the growth of intimate at-home dining experiences and the early days of the moveable feast trend: Both provide fertile ground for would-be restaurateurs to give a concept a whirl before committing to a lease. With food trucks, though, vendors were often trying out what were essentially fast casual concepts. With supper clubs, we’re seeing inventive multi-course dinners from pros who need a new outlet and amateurs who want to dabble in the industry without taking the full plunge.
Enter I Forgot It’s Wednesday, a supper club coming on line at the beginning of February.
The gathering is the brainchild of couple Jenny Wang and Matt Dorsey, who first started talking about ways they could facilitate good conversation when they were in business school together at Columbia. “A lot of times you don’t have really good conversations,” Wang says of chance meetings with strangers with whom you might have a lot in common. “We were both at business school, and we were having all these superficial conversations.”
They began formulating plans for a supper club, a pause in the week — “A lot of us are like, let’s just make it to the weekend,” says Wang — that would bring strangers together in a setting intimate enough that they would have little choice but to make friends. “The easiest way to connect with someone is through food,” says Wang. “So we said, let’s make an environment that’s inviting and disarming, and you come have something to eat and have a little bit more of a meaningful conversation. It gets them through hump days. If we do our jobs right, you’ll forget it’s Wednesday.” Hence the name.
Creating new friendships might be the focus of the supper club, but Wang also has a culinary background: After ditching a career in fashion because “it was awful,” she went to culinary school and then worked in a test kitchen for a restaurant consulting company, where she worked on developing menus for concepts that served everything from Mexican fare to kimchi tacos. She externed at Market Table under David Standridge, and then she signed on with Le Pain Quotidien, where she does food and beverage development.
At I Forgot It’s Wednesday, she’ll be serving a mix of shared dishes and plated fare, dabbling in a number of different cuisines in order to tell, she hopes, a cohesive story, a characteristic she says she sees in the most successful gatherings she’s seen. “I went to another supper club, Suite ThreeOhSix with Daphne Cheng,” she says. “I just loved it. Her supper club isn’t about talking to others — it’s about showing the breadth of vegan food, and she conveyed that message very well.” Dorsey will head up the beverage side of the dinners, applying what he’s learned from studying cocktails.
While Wang says she’d like to someday retire and run a cafe, she’s currently thinking more about how to expand the supper club than she is formulating plans for a brick-and-mortar restaurant. As the concept moves forward, Wang hopes to add another dinner each week, likely on Mondays, which will be more upscale and fancier. For now, seats at I Forgot It’s Wednesday go for $50, which includes a multi-course meal and drinks. The first dinner is on February 5; you can reserve a spot by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 28, 2014