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Best Foodie Trend of 2013: The Rise of the Supper Club
Tom Madrecki at work in the Chez le Commis kitchen. Photo by Scott Suchman.
The email went out at 4:19pm on July 6th.
Per the usual first-come, first-serve process — seats are now available for dinner July 20 at 7 p.m. To reserve, send an email with your requested number of seats.
Three minutes later, all 14 seats had been reserved.
The invitation was not for Komi or minibar, but for a seat at Chez Le Commis, a supper club that Tom Madrecki runs out of his one-bedroom apartment in Clarendon. For $50, diners get a six-course dinner and three wine pairings. A public relations manager by day, Madrecki hosts Chez le Commis about two times a month on average. His email list of potential diners has grown to almost 1,000 people, and dinners are usually booked up within five minutes of the email going out.
Chez le Commis started in 2012, but it is by no means the only supper club show in town. Hush Supper Club has been serving up Indian vegetarian cuisine in the U Street area since 2009. The owners of GoodWood host a $150-a-head dinner on occasion for 14 people in their Blagden Alley home. Dan O’Brien hosts a supper club four nights a week when his 9th Street NW shop is not functioning as Seasonal Pantry. Among the many other clubs to sprout up this year, UrbanTurf heard about one just for singles in LeDroit Park and an economic option in Arlington where three courses costs you just $20.
While not new, the hype and pride surrounding the experience of having eaten at one of the higher-end supper clubs reached a fever pitch in 2013.
“In a city like DC, New York or Paris, there is a one-upmanship among people when it comes to having experienced that latest restaurant or food trend,” Madrecki told UrbanTurf. “People in DC are more inclined these days to go to the newest restaurant rather than an art exhibit, and supper clubs are alluring because they are edgy and a borderline legal dining experience.”
It should be stated that not all clubs have the same intention. There are those that are trying to curate an artistic culinary experience and those just looking to bring strangers around a communal table for a meal. Madrecki, who has worked at such high-end eateries as Noma in Copenhagen and Le Chateaubriand in Paris, falls into the former category. So does Aaron Silverman, who tested out the menu for Rose’s Luxury on Barracks Row via a supper club at his rowhouse prior to opening the restaurant.
Madrecki jokes with people that he isn’t running a supper club but rather a tiny restaurant. That description became a little more realistic when Washingtonian critic Todd Kliman noted in 2012 that Chez le Commis was one of the best meals he had in 2012.
“The kitchen functions like a real kitchen, items in the fridge are labelled, and dishes are plated at a pass,” he said of his apartment-turned-supper club. “Also, there’s a $1,200 ice cream machine in my apartment, so that’s a little nuts.”
This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/best_foodie_trend_of_2013_the_rise_of_the_supper_club/7944.
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