Post by Eliza Barclay, The Salt at NPR Food
Remember all that hype about "underground" supper clubs a few years back? They lure adventurous diners into homes and makeshift spaces where fledgling chefs cook up feasts for pay. The hosts trade in secrecy and exclusivity, and play up food specificity with themes like "Pig Every Which Way," "Jewish Soul Food," and "A Taste Of Tripoli" (because there is no Libyan restaurant in town). And, on top of the food, attendees can revel in the novel experience of eating face-to-face, side-by-side with total strangers.
While these dinners may seem like old hat to some foodies, a handful of startups are betting that the concept is just taking off, and see it expanding to a growing number of cities. Here's the skinny on four companies dedicated to helping people find, organize, monetize, and manage supper clubs:
Feastly says it's aiming to be the Airbnb of the food world, creating alternatives to impersonal dining the way that the travel rental company has created an alternate market to generic hotels.
"We want to be in every city in the world so wherever you're traveling, you can find a home-cooked meal," Danny Harris, co-founder of Feastly, tells The Salt.
Here's how it works: The site connects chefs (many of them professional) who want to host paid meals or tastings of a new product in their homes with "feasters" looking for a unique dining experience. The chefs set the price of the meal, and Feastly takes a 20 percent cut. Harris says chefs can make to a few hundred dollars in profit at the end of the night if they play their cards right.