Fresno's Underground Suppers: A Unique Culinary Experience in Unexpected Places
Oct 17, 2016 02:11PM
By Melanie Heisinger
Photo courtesy of DC Photography Studios.
Who doesn't like a littler mystery with their meal?
At the beginning of this year, Fresno's Underground Suppers was born. Armed with culinary knowledge and an excitement to try something new, The Painted Table catering team and Posh & Posy Events collaborated to create a new kind of dining experience for the Central Valley.
Fresno's Underground Suppers is a dining experience unlike any other. It combines experimental culinary dishes with a little bit of mystery. It is essentially a themed meal, typically served in courses, with other people who are just as curious as you are. The experience is made special with decadent decor fitting for the theme of the evening. What makes this experience so unique is the location -- it isn't announced until 48 hours before the dinner.
We were able to get in touch with Amy Jaye and learn more about this unique and scrumtious dining experience.
Tell us a little about Fresno's Underground Suppers. When and how did it get started?
Jeromie from The Painted Table and I first talked about the idea a year and a half ago, but we didn’t really start working on it until October of 2015. I kept hearing about all these fun dinners in cities like Los Angeles and London and San Francisco, and couldn’t find anything like them here. I thought, “ Well, why not in Fresno?” Maybe there were others who were looking for the same thing I was.
I talked to the catering warriors at The Painted Table, they were as excited about it as I was, and our first dinner was January of this year.
What are the goals and where do you see it heading?
Our goal is to provide unique culinary experiences to the Central Valley, something you can’t get from walking into any restaurant any weekend of the year. We’ve added a Travel Supper Series that is inspired by the cuisines of different regions of the world, and we are continuing the Underground Suppers monthly for 2017. We are hoping to add maybe three or four very special one-of-a-kind culinary experiences outside of our usual secret “ underground” series as pop-ups that would be offered to our members first before the general public. It is all so new that we are letting it evolve organically into something uniquely Fresno, but always with an eye on how we can innovate and do something new.
What's something people usually assume about the Fresno Underground Suppers?
I think people assume that there is a certain “type” of person who attends our dinners, but that isn’t the case. Our members run the gamut from millennials to the retired set, from students to professionals. You don’t have to bring a partner to enjoy the dinner; you can come with your girlfriends or best buddies or by yourself. The thing that ties everyone together is the love of great food and being a bit adventurous!
What is your personal favorite aspect of the Fresno Underground Suppers?
I love that the menus are a complete secret until you are there and are eating what is put in front of you. I’ve given complete control of the menu to The Painted Table, and they are the only caterers in town I would trust with this type of concept. Their culinary perspective is so creative - it is like they are looking at food through a different lens than everyone else. Even when they take an ingredient or a dish that may be familiar to you, they put their own twist on it that raises it to another level. Plus, everything they do is seasonal, as local as it can possibly be, and looks as good as it tastes.
What's one of your most memorable moments while working there?
There is a moment before dinner, just before the guests arrive, when everything comes together and I am awed by what is about to happen. I can hear the chefs in the kitchen preparing the fantastic menu, I can see the beautiful tables set carefully, the staff fussing over every detail. It is more than just great food. It is more than a beautiful table, wonderful lighting and talented entertainment. It is the combination of all these things that makes it truly magical. The first time that really hit me over the head was our dinner at Forestiere Underground Gardens. There we were, in this amazing place, about to do something no one ever gets to do. It took my breath away.
How can someone sign up to attend one of the dinners? Is it open to everyone?
We have two types of events - events that are open to everyone and members-only events.
The events that are open to everyone tend to accommodate larger numbers of people, the price point will vary, and the themes might be more general. These would include events like our "Picnic & A Play” dinners with Woodward Shakespeare Festival, or our “Feast of the Seven Fishes” holiday dinner.
The events that are for members-only tend to be smaller, have a specific theme like our upcoming “Root to Stem: A Vegan Feast” dinner or our “Flirting with Flavor: An Aphrodisiac Dinner.”
It is free to be a member, anyone can sign up on our website to be put on our mailing list to be notified when tickets go on sale. Because we are limiting the number of people who can attend a members-only event to 36 you have to be ready to make your purchase right away - one of our dinners sold out in ten minutes! Plus, members will have first crack at tickets for our pop-up dinners, and believe me you will want a seat at those tables.
Are there any upcoming things happening we should be excited about?
We are always looking for ways to bring people together over great food, so we will always be experimenting and trying new things. If you don’t see something on our schedule that grabs your attention, just wait a bit - there is more to come. We are ever evolving and inclusive and open to ideas!
Here is what we have on the books so far:
- November 25, 2016: Not Your Mama’s Thanksgiving Dinner
- December 8, 2016: It’s a Norman Rockwell Wonderful Life Christmas Story Dinner
- December 15, 2016: A Christmas Feast - French Reveillon
- December 22, 2016: The Feast of Seven Fishes
Underground Supper Series:
- Dinner in the Dark - January 12, 13
- Flirting with Flavor: An Aphrodisiac Dinner - February 10, 11
- Gastropub Craft Beer Crawl - March 23, 24
- Take Me Out to the Ball Game - April 6, 7
- From Roots to Leaves: A Vegan Feast - May 4, 5
- Quantum Kitchen: Molecular Gastronomy Experience - June 15, 16
Travel Supper Series:
- January 17th - Barcelona
- February 21st - Paris
- March 21st - Ireland
- April 18th - Morocco
- May 16th - Havana
- June 20th - Mongolia