Just off the intersection of two historic Eagle Rock thoroughfares, Wildwood Ovens is a shop specializing in custom-built wood-burning ovens like Brazilian churrasqueiras and Argentinian parillas. By this weekend, it will have added another facet to its space -- as a new members-only supper club called The Loft. Owner Michael Gerard collaborated with Susan Ji Young Park and Farid Zadi, whose collective experiences in food range from running a restaurant to culinary instruction, in setting up a licensed private club within the store.
The couple connected with Gerard through Facebook. Park, wearing three hats as director of operations, resident chef, and event coordinator, says, "Michael wanted to set the Wildwood Ovens office as a demo, test kitchen. Before he had met us, he had decided to get it licensed as a private club. Farid and I were looking to do exclusive, private events at a venue. The three of us met and it all just came together.
"The timing seems perfect with what's happening in the food world, looking into the ongoing underground supper club, pop-ups. That doesn't seem to be going away," says Park. "Every year, it seems like it'll be yesterday's news, but there's a demand for it."
The space has been outfitted to accommodate various events including demos, cooking classes, seminars and visiting chef dinners with amenities such as two fully equipped open kitchens -- one indoors and another out. As expected for a private club located within a shop like Wildwood Ovens, there's a wood-burning oven and a Brazilian churrasqueira.
Park says the club will run on several templates, with resident chefs having recurring suppers on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On Wednesdays, the chef-in-charge will rotate and the menu will focus on locally sourced ingredients such as wild boar from Paso Robles or dandelion greens foraged from Griffith Park. Mondays and Tuesdays will be reserved for more exclusive events like ongoing industry tastings. Once a month, there will be a feast that highlights a different culinary culture in Los Angeles -- whether Brazilian, Chinese, Korean or Mexican.
Both Park and Zadi have contributed to the Weekly in the past. The creative latitude that comes with a private club license appealed to the two. "We've had customers who want to bring a whole lamb or whole pig and have Farid cook it. You can't do that legally at a restaurant," says Park.
This Sunday is an industry night tasting with Park at the kitchen's helm. She'll be offering dishes such as cauliflower a la plancha with red harissa and romesco, olive oil-poached farm egg with onion soubise and smoked chickpeas, and spicy whole shrimp with avocado. The club will officialy open to its members on Saturday, July 27.
Annual membership fees are $20 for general level; $50 for premiere (includes priority reservations); and $100 for exclusive (includes private tastings and exclusive events). There will be additional fees to attend events.
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