Tasting Collective, the nation’s largest private dining membership community, which currently operates in Austin, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington D.C., will launch in Los Angeles on Sunday, November 3 at Shibumi with chef David Schlosser taking center stage.
This food lovers community takes over top independent restaurants every other week on days when eateries are typically closed or having quiet nights, and packs them up with diners who enjoy a six-course meal and have the opportunity to interact with chefs and owners. At the same time, executive chefs can experiment with new recipes and get instructive feedback from diners.
“The food scene in L.A. is arguably the best in the country, and we’ve been wanting to come here for a long time,” founder Nat Gelb tells L.A. Weekly. “There are tons of restaurants that fit the mold of the restaurants we love to work with — smaller, independent and chef-owned that are innovative and forward-thinking and are a great fit for our format. L.A. is a beast in itself and we want to make sure we’re prepared to tackle it.”
The evening stars with doors opening at 4:45 p.m. for the first seating, with guests settling into their assigned seats in time for the first course which is served at 515pm. At that time, the chef joins the crowd, introduces the menu and discusses preparation, inspiration, etc. There’s a Q&A with the chef during the final course as well, with a chance to play food critic for the night by rating the meal on a 1- 5 scale with comments.
“I wanted to bring people together who share the same passion for food with a dialogue between chefs and diners,” says Gelb. “ What I love about our membership base is that the members are all over the map. They are all ages and ethnicities, it’s not some elitist community or executive-only kind of thing. What our members share is a passion for the food experience. We have members in their 70s sitting next to and striking up conversations with millennials, we have couples and folks who come in solo. It’s a very social experience.”
The standard annual charter membership is $165, but Gelb is offering an initial $99 fee for the first 250 Angeleno members, which provides unlimited access to all of the events in the ten participating cities. Dinners are $50 per person for members, who can bring guests for a few dollars more per plate.
With 5,000 members and counting, Gelb plans to add another 10 cities next year, beginning with Charlotte, North Carolina. The L.A. experience will start off with Shibumi, then move on to Jaffa with executive chef and co-owner Anne Conness, and Otoño with executive chef and co-owner Teresa Montaño. Other L.A. restaurants which are booked through February 2020 will be announced later.
“Tasting Collective is great because it gives their members a personal look inside what the restaurant is all about,” Schlosser tells L.A. Weekly about the kickoff.