Any given week in Milwaukee there are typically a few pop-up dinners going on around town. Dinner Lab launches today in Milwaukee and operates a little differently than your typical pop-up dinner - such as one hosted by Amilinda - and it will host its first event locally Aug. 22.
In a nutshell, Dinner Lab is a membership-based service that requires payment upfront for access to its calendar. It isn't exclusivity Dinner Lab is aiming for with its subscription model, but the $125 annual fee (which you can purchase for the Milwaukee market starting today) helps subsidize the cost of dinners, hire staff, rent a kitchen, etc. Guests also pay for each dinner and have access to events in every city in which Dinner Lab operates.
Tickets are purchased through the website a few weeks prior to the event, and prices include tax, gratuity and alcohol. The locations are always untraditional and announced a few days before the event -- and based on locations of past dinners in other cities -- they do indeed look unique and different with venues such as rooftops, churches and more.
Milwaukee chefs will account for about 50 percent of the dinners and Dinner Lab will also bring in top performing chefs from other markets. Most of the local chefs will be the ones more in the background of a restaurant, not the top chef at the helm, which could provide a great opportunity for a local chef seeking to break out and try something different.
For these chefs, Dinner Lab is essentially data. All of that data is collected and crunched, leaving chefs with a detailed look at the positives and negatives of their experiences at Dinner Lab. They could then use the data to open their own restaurant someday, after they have already crafted and tested a menu.
The chefs are not told what to make, but instead are asked to tell a story through their menus – recipes that speak to their background or heritage, ingredients they are passionate about.
For the first Milwaukee event, Chef Daniel Espinoza brings his culinary delights from the Chicago area where he is Dinner Lab's chef de cuisine. His menu (below) should allow you to taste your way through his life experiences of traveling the world while holding onto his humble Mexical roots.
Anomar -- Modern Mexican Cuisine
Tiradito de Cobia: spiced chicharron, lemon curd, pickled grape, cilantro
Ensalada de Verdolagas: purslane, beets, pepitas, requeson
Tiayuda: masa flatbread, chicken carnitas, mushroom escabeche, mole
Puerco en Curtido: pickled pork tenderloin, celery root al pastor, charred pineapple, tortilla puree
Deep In Cider: apple mousse, cider cajeta gelee, walnut compote, cinnamon churro, tangerine gem
The idea of a unique location, a great opportunity for a local chef and what is sure to be delicious food is reason enough for me to plan to check out Dinner Lab. Maybe I will see you at one soon.
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