A graceful football tackle is about as unexpected as upscale tailgating grub.
But that's just what you'll find at a new Eat Lafayette dining experience called Sports Suites Eats. It's the first in a series of affordable, multicourse dinners that will showcase the culinary and performing arts in an approachable way.
"I love fantasizing about who's going to be in the dining room — just the demographic and diversity an event like this will attract," said Clair Burton, the culinary mind behind the event. "That's the best when you get to feed all kinds of people."
Sports Suites Eats will happen from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 25 at Central Pizza & Bar in downtown Lafayette. Tickets cost $25.
The evening will begin with appetizers and tailgating at the parklet outside of the restaurant and continue in the restaurant with four courses interspersed with sports-themed dance performances.
"It's not only about having a dinner but sharing the creative process with the community and all the work that goes into a project," said Clare Cook, creative director of Sports Suites Eats. "It will be an immersive experience, so we won't do a tennis dance then have you eat your tennis dish. It'll show the sport and dance process in a playful way."
Dancers from Cook's company Basin Arts will perform around four sporting themes — football, tennis, basketball and volleyball — and interact with attendees as they eat. Performing won't be limited to the professionals. Waitstaff are learning cheers, and dinner guests might participate in crowd cheers like the wave.
The atmosphere will be less Monday night football and more Friday night football. Decor will be inspired by high school trophy cases and retro pep rallies.
"Everything will be folded into the evening, into the experience," Cook said. "It'll be more of a dinner filled with surprises than dinner theater."
In previous years, chef's table experiences were available only to about eight people who won an Eat Lafayette giveaway.
The new chef's tables will accommodate about 80 and will layer performing and visual arts into the culinary arts.
"This year, the CREATE initiative is involved for the first time, and they wanted to showcase their local artists," said Ben Berthelot, who leads Lafayette Travel, the tourism organization that oversees Eat Lafayette. "So in addition to great food, we'll be showcasing local art."
CREATE, which aims to grow Lafayette's creative economy, has been connecting Eat Lafayette chefs and restaurants with ArtSpark grant recipients to coordinate the dinners.
The collaborations are allowing local chefs and artists to push their creative limits. The chef's tables could also cultivate community support for local creatives.
"The spirit of Eat Lafayette is to get the community to meet the people who make local restaurants great," said Kate Durio, CREATE's chief cultural officer. "And we realized this could be an opportunity to help grow the audience for ArtSpark recipients. We're creating these opportunities for people to connect with restaurants and artists in a way that will build relationships and support."