About a day before a Chicks with Knives dinner, guests are emailed the address to a secret location. On the night of the event, they arrive at a home they've never been to before and knock on the door. And while they don't have to give a secret password to enter, the evening starts out feeling a little like stepping into a speakeasy.
Welcome to a supper club dinner put on by chefs Rachael Narins and Suzanne Griswold who also go by Chicks with Knives. "Our dinners are usually four courses and we serve between 16 and 20," says Narins. "And it's just all about bringing together adventuresome people who love food."
The evening starts out like your typical cocktail party and then The Chicks gather the diners for a pre-dinner run down of the menu and their passion for the sustainable, organic and local ingredients. Says Griswold "we want everyone to support their communities and buying organic and local is an easy way to do that." From there, the meal begins.
Both Griswold and Narins graduated from The California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and met while teaching cooking classes here in Los Angeles. Narins attended a underground supper put on by Ghetto Gourmet a few years back and thought "I can do that! I always loved teaching with Suzanne, so when the time was right, I asked if she liked the idea, she instantly got on board and it all came together like a dream."
That was about a year ago and since then they have put together around 12 dinners all over Los Angeles.
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The goal? Creating and serving a gourmet meal in a casual, yet elegant home setting. Each dinner runs about from about $50 - $65 and while the guests relax over simple starters like pickled orange cauliflower and Easter radishes with fresh churned butter, Narins and Griswold are busy preparing the meal, often in very tight quarters. For the Chicks that's all part of the fun and the challenge. "We send potential hosts a huge check list, but in the end, you never really know how it's all going to work out," say Narins. "The hardest part about these dinners is schlepping everything. We bring in every plate, every glass every ingredient, every chair... everything," says Griswold. "It's a lot of work."
Then why do it month after month? "Well first," says Narins, "we get to cook whatever we want and then we get to serve it to people who are, for the most part so appreciative. But mostly we hope it reminds people how terrific our local food scene is and how lucky we are to have access to such beautiful food." Past menus have included entrees like bison sous-vide with persimmon chutney, and asparagus and leek tatin on brioche.
The dinners are now selling out pretty quickly, advertised simply by word of mouth. But if you can't make it to a dinner, Chicks with Knives are up to other endeavors as well. "Well, naturally, we teach knife skills classes" says Griswold. "We also organize culinary field trips and offer private, in-home cooking classes."