Eric Stein was online, begrudgingly watching Top Chef audition tapes, trying to figure out why he hadn't made the cut. After all, he's a chef, an instructor at Johnson & Wales and a registered dietitian who owns a company that teaches people how to eat well. He even has a masters' of science degree.
"What did these folks have that I don't?," Stein wondered. But wait. What did that last guy say? Stein clicked back on his computer. Something about "ghetto gourmet."
A few more clicks later, and Stein became the founder and first member of the Denver chapter of Ghetto Gourmet (www.theget.com), a four-year-old social networking site that connects food lovers of all sorts. Jeremy Townsend started the group in Oakland; it's since grown to more than thirty chapters worldwide.
"I really was unaware of underground restaurants before I started looking into the Ghetto Gourmet," says Stein. "I want to start now by having events at local restaurants that I know are really good, but that are being missed by the general population. My plan is to have Secret Supper Thursdays, and work with chefs to plan multi-course menus designed specifically for my group."
And that's just the start of his plans for the chapter in Denver, which he thinks has a food scene that can compete on the level of Chicago, New York and cities on the West Coast. "Every day new ideas and possibilities present themselves, and I am really excited about moving forward with these projects," says Stein, adding that he's already connected with people from different aspects of the service industry (chefs, bartenders, DJs, promoters) for future events. Although he has yet to hold the first event, already more than fifty members have joined the group since he started it a month ago.
"The first events will be potluck-style get-togethers where members of the GG Denver group will gather and share good food and drink, sort of in the spirit of groups associated with sites like meetup.com," he explains. The first official GGDenver event showcased a tapas-style potluck held in the Berkeley neighborhood, last month. The first event was free but for future events, which will cost between $30 and $80, members will respond to a PayPal account (Members RSVP on the GG Denver homepage, posting their planned potluck contributions so there will be no overlap).
"People are hungry for community, no pun intended, and breaking bread with someone for a night is a good way to build up a community," says Jessica Hope Twibell, who's opening her huge family home in an old school for the inaugural event. She says she may do a bit of decorating in advance, but nothing fancy. "It's about showing up, connecting, having fun and honoring food," she adds.
"I love to cook and I love to eat good food, so that is my primary focus," Stein concludes. "Truth be told, I started this group as a way to meet some cool new people and throw some cool parties."
Take that, Top Chef.
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E. Brown (BrnWriter)
Feb 10, 2009
Sep 8, 2010 09:57 PM UTC
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The Ghetto Gourmet is an underground dining experience in the United States, in which diners pay between $40 and $100 and are served a table d'hôte meal prepared by a professional chef at a non-restaurant location. Local restaurant chefs cook on their days off. Douglas Adesko at Time magazine wrote: "Jeremy Townsend, the original Ghetto Gourmet, came up with the idea when his brother, a line cook, wanted to try some dishes. They started in their house in Oakland, California. Two years and one visit from a health inspector later, Townsend took his idea mobile, trying out chefs in other cities. 'My ultimate dream is to tour the country like a rock band, except with dinner parties,' he says."