Dinner Lab, a social dining club that gives chefs a chance to try out new dishes while offering members access to unique “pop-up” restaurants, is expanding into Baton Rouge.
The New Orleans-based company was founded about two years ago to allow emerging chefs to get feedback on which meals work and which don’t. Dinner Labs are now open in 24 cities, including Houston, New York, Atlanta and Austin, Texas.
“A lot of our team has been to Baton Rouge many, many times,” said Zach Kupperman, co-founder and chief business officer for Dinner Lab. “So when we were looking to expand in Louisiana, there were connections in Baton Rouge. There’s also an amazing underground culture on the culinary side that’s often overlooked.”
Membership in Dinner Lab is $125 annually, which covers the cost of renting a space for a restaurant and hiring cooks and servers. The dinners are held in places that are “off the beaten path,” such as abandoned warehouses. About half of the chefs will be local; typically, they are people who work in the back of nice restaurants who want to operate their own eatery.
“We don’t dictate what the chefs should cook,” Kupperman said. “We want them to cook their passion.”
Every week, members get an email with a list of upcoming Dinner Lab events. Members have access to meals in any participating city. Diners buy separate tickets for each meal and are allowed to bring a guest; the ticket prices cover drinks and tips.
The first Dinner Lab event will be held in Baton Rouge in about six to eight weeks, Kupperman said. “We’re getting ready to send our team to Baton Rouge and start buying equipment,” he said.
About three weeks before the meal, members will get an email with information about the location, chef and the menu. This information will not be shared with the public. Plans are to start off with one Dinner Lab event a month in Baton Rouge, eventually ramping up to the point where there are five or six meals being held locally monthly.
Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.