Secret food clubs offer dinner with strangers

Invite-only

You're invited for a Secret Tipples party this Saturday!” read the subject line. We opened the email and were pleasantly surprised to see a message from Delhi Secret Supper Club, an exclusive member and invite only secret drinking, dining and networking club, extending an invitation for a “secret tipples night at a secret location to raise a toast about the year that has gone by”.

Excited and intrigued in equal measures, we Googled for such initiatives and were amazed to find out that there are other groups which were organising such invite-only, secret dinners that also served as a platform for people from various walks of life to engage and socialise over a common love – food.

“On a beach vacation, we all were grumbling why the Delhi social scene is so obviously typical and hyper marketed. After many margaritas, we came to an epiphany of sorts. We love experimental food experiences and are epic conversation connoisseurs and hence came up with a small mission: Make Delhi experience a new form of dining, a new form of engaging, a new form of socialising. And all done in a mysterious and covert fashion,” says the spokesperson of Delhi Secret Supper Club (DSSC).

The spokesperson adds that the objective is to get together a curated and screened set of like-minded strangers who can bond and banter over great food, drinks in a safe
environment.

Much like the DSSC, there is Dinner with Strangers by Food Talk India, an invite-only community on Facebook for the epicureans; and the Secret Supper Project which is on constant look out for those who “enjoy surprise and wonder in their food as much as they do in their lives”.

“It was launched over three years ago, to bring unique experiences at affordable prices to those who sought us out. We do not market, people only hear about us from others who have attended our dinners. Invite only allows our guests to keep wondering what, where and how. We avoid repeating people, and ask a unique question each time. Those with the best answers make it to the wait list,” Tejal Choksi Kapadia, chief executive officer, Secret Supper Project, tells Metrolife.

But the DSSC, which was established in 2013, tightly screens and curates their guest list. “We make additions based on our knowledge of the key influencers in the city; and also through recommendations from our existing members, keeping in mind that they must fit into our existing set and are able to participate in engaging repartee. We also allow for people to write in to us for membership,” the spokesperson says adding that all new members are assessed on parameters such as the work they do, wit, passion, and their experiences.

So how does it work? “We follow a colour code system and break up the group into four to six smaller groups. As you come in, each one is handed a (colour) band that defines what table you will be seated at. You then make your way to the table to find your fellow diners. You then sit down and enjoy a meal served communal style with your new friends. So even if you come with a group of friends you are sure to meet some amazing new people at your table,” says Anjali Batra, co-founder, Food Talk India which was started in 2013.

She adds that the idea for ‘Dinner with Strangers’ came from seeing how ‘strangers’ on the Food Talk India community came together and interacted on social media. “They would give each other recommendations, share experiences and on many a few occasions even quarrel. And the one central element that brought them all together was their love for food. So we decided to do a social experiment and bring them together in person over a great meal,” she says.

While the number of invitees can range anywhere between 10 to 60, the venue for such meals are chosen depending on the type of event and those which are unique, centrally located, has a relaxed fun environment, and most importantly – serves “brilliant food”.
However, these unique meal experiences come with a price tag ranging between Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,500 (per head). But that, say the organisers, is no deterrent for those “who want to challenge public norms, willing to out step out of their comfort zone, network with the finest minds and foster new experiences”.

“Social sets, cliques and entourages have driven Delhi for a long while and people are now looking for open, uninhibited, spontaneous networking and friendships,” says DSSC spokesperson.

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