If there ever was an exciting time to be alive, it’s now. If you have a computer and an internet connection, you have a business. If you have a canopy and $125, you can have a stall at a farmer’s market. And if you have half a dozen cooks, two servers, and two dishwashers, you have a restaurant.
They’re called pop-up restaurants, and they’re an awesome new way to connect people with food.
When I heard about a vegan pop-up dinner happening in Milwaukee, I wanted in. My friend Mary Beth is involved with a pop-up restaurant group called And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Crumbs (lovingly called TOC for short). My partner and I had never visited Milwaukee. It’s a five and a half hour drive, just far enough to need a really good reason to visit. This pop-up dinner was it.
My version of heaven is simple. Endless stacks of books, people I love across the street, and a never-ending supply of delicious vegetarian food. Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like to walk into restaurants and be able to order anything on the menu.
This pop-up dinner was my little slice of heaven. Ten courses of vegan food, inspired by cuisine from around the world. True to pop-up style, there was plenty of play & theatricality. The tone for the entire evening was set by the first course, which made me laugh out loud:
They called it Sad Salad, and it’s what a vegan might have to order at a restaurant in Milwaukee. Curt started eating it until we realized it was a joke! They were whisked away as quickly as they arrived, with promises of compost & happy bunnies.
Our friend Mary Beth was one of the chefs, servers, and event organizers. She created a beautiful rum drink that she was describing when I snapped this photo.
Here’s the best part about pop-up dinners: you have to eat with strangers. You don’t have a choice. Lucky for us, this went much better than the awkward time we sat with two other couples on a dinner cruise in San Diego. It was fantastic. We knew one person at the table and within ten minutes I couldn’t stop laughing. Never have I had so much fun dining with complete strangers. My face hurt by the end of the night from smiling so much.
When Mary Beth asked how many vegans were at the dinner, three people raised their hands. Three. Out of 35. Absolutely amazing. Vegan food is being de-mystified, and it’s because of events like this. Everyone at my table was incredibly open-minded, trying things like Chinese bean curd and cauliflower “couscous”. The food was amazing, and while the entire dinner flowed flawlessly from course to course, each dish stood on its own. My husband, who also loves meat, said the dinner was “a culinary smorgasborg full of diverse tastes.”
If you have a chance to go to a pop-up dinner, do. It may seem a little pricey up front, but it is absolutely worth it. The money you’re paying goes right into the wallets of chefs, servers, and artists. These people are passionate about creating food that is also art. You’re paying for so much more than dinner. You’re supporting artists who are passionate about food and changing the way we eat.subscribe to my RSS feed!