by Susan Ellis
On Wednesday, May 18th, Clandestino, a group out of Chicago that puts on underground dinner parties, is holding an event in Memphis.
This location is undisclosed, only to be revealed 24 hours before the dinner.
Clandestino's Lauren Parton (pictured second from the right), however, revealed it to me.
It's downtown and has hipster cred, though all sorts patronize the place. It's known for two specific things, which may or may not be food-related. (Guess away!)
I met up with Lauren at the Barbecue Fest. She and other members of Clandestino were at the Ques Bros. tent. It seems when it comes to the fest, all things lead back to the Ques Bros. team (a notable member is Paul Ryburn). And it so happens that I had met one of the Clandestinos the year before and there was a Ques Bros. connection. But more on that later.
Lauren, 27, says that she and Efrain Cuevas, 34, are second-career-ers. She worked in music promotion and he was an engineer. She's now a mixologist, and Efrain works as a private chef.
A third member is 18 and a student. The fourth is Willie Wagner, the member I met before. Willie is 14-years-old.
But no ordinary, 14-year-old, Lauren says. Willie is, in no particular order: a bee-keeper, a home-schooler, a whiz on the trapeze, and an entrepreneur.
An overwhelming love for food with a commitment to local-sourcing binds the group. They strive to make all elements of their dishes themselves — from pasta to simple syrups for cocktails.
They like to hold the dinners in an array of sites, which in the past have included a loft, a garden, and a warehouse.
Each Clandestino dinner has a theme, and Wednesday night's is a nod to the group being in the Bible Belt: 7 Deadly Sins.
The menu features a just-for-the-occasion cocktail, the Tennessee Sinner, which will be made with Bourbon and Prosecco and orange and rosemary syrup. The courses follow a script of all the sins, from gluttony (foie gras French toast) and sloth (pea, mint, and pig trotter soup) to greed (chicken-fried oyster po'boy) and pride (a tasting of the chefs' signature desserts, including sorbet and candies).
The dinner will be served on community tables and the vibe is casual. "We treat it like we're having someone over to our house," Lauren says.
According to Lauren, the dinners tend to attract all types. "We'll have a hipster sitting next to a suit-and-tie kind of guy. It's fantastic!"
Clandestino Underground Supper Club, Wednesday, May 18th, 7 p.m., $80. For reservations or more information, go to clandestinodining.org.