Last week we did our first Wild Kitchen A La Carte. We've been doing prix fixe dinners for about three years now, and I wanted a chance to try something new, as well as give an opportunity for folks to come who hadn't come to our other dinners. It was a great. We only took reservations for parties of 6 or more, and even with that we had about double what we could handle.We fed 160 people each night, and everyone seemed to have a great time. We had hot towels for people who just sat down, and free mulled wine for those who were waiting. I love hot towels, it makes me feel like I'm really being welcomed and taken care of. There were a few hiccups as with any restaurant opening, but it got me really excited to expand the dinners into other projects Ive been mulling over. We had a few problems. It rained on the first night for the first time in about 4 months, which seemed like a curse, but in the end I think worked out for the best. We probably got fewer walk-ins that night, so got a chance to get our heads around the new model. The other was the health department, who seems to have re-caste me as public enemy number one on the food scene. Even though this was the most legit dinner we've ever done: All the food was prepped and cooked in a restaurant, and then was served in the same restaurant, which was permitted to serve food, they had a problem. Because I didn't turn in a certain form (I won't bore you with the details, but really just a formality), they called the owner of the space and threatened to show up at my dinner with the police and shut us down. Amazing over-reaction. In the end the form was turned in, and the dinners happened, but the whole experience makes me wish more and more that DPH's would work with us to help support the creative food community in SF, rather than seeing it as a problem.
But on a brighter note, we may be taking over the space where we had the dinners, renting it out as a shared-use kitchen, and opening as a pop-up space for other chefs to come in and have their way with the public. More on that soon, but for now..PICTURES! Enjoy, and hope to see you at our next dinner.
photos by Andria Lo