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The New Guard Doesn’t Get Old

Sunday night I attended my third New Guard dinner.  Actually, calling the event "dinner" doesn’t really do it justice.  The events are multi-creative endeavors.  As I mentioned before the events are three-part.  As people arrive, mingle and select their seating they can also enjoy the evening’s featured artist.  Depending on the venue there may be a couple of display panels set up or the art may be placed around the room.  About an hour later the food is served family-style and when it’s time for dessert the musical part of the evening starts. 
There are a couple of prerequisites for diners to really get the most from these evenings.  First, you need to be flexible and relaxed about timing.  As mentioned the goal is for dinner to be served about an hour after the doors open but two of the three that I’ve attended dinner was significantly later than that.  Even in the best of circumstances banquet-style serving is challenging.  And, the chef(s) are working in unfamiliar kitchens and may or may not have access to the professional equipment they normally do.  For some of them this is their first venture into a banquet-style service.  On the flip side you can be rewarded with fun and interesting meals the chef may not be able to produce in their normal venue for one reason or another. 
Additionally, you should be a bit of an adventurous eater.  Since you don’t know ahead of time what will be on the menu and, again, this is the chef’s chance to be creative you may need to approach your meal with a sense of exploration.  Also, the "vegetarian" option will probably consist of the meatless items on the menu with no actual alternative for those who do not eat meat.  Finally, you may need to bring this sense of education, of discovery to the art and music, too.  They may not always be something that appeals to you but this is your chance to be exposed to something new, something you may not have chosen on your own.  Maybe you’ll find you have been missing out on something you really enjoy. 
At this last dinner I watched as the women across from me passed on the appetizer of oysters on the half-shell, and then carefully picked all of the fried pig’s ears and wild mushrooms from their salads and placed them in a pile off to the side of their plate.  I understand that eating raw oysters can take time to become comfortable with but these were such gorgeous (and small) Kusshi’s they would have been a good place to start.  And the pig’s ears were delicious!  Honestly, since they were fried, they almost could have been anything, but they didn’t even try one bite.  I think both J and I were tempted to reach across the table and snag a few of those discarded items!
If you can bring an open attitude to the dinner you will be rewarded.  Not only will you experience up and coming artists, chefs and musicians but you’ll probably meet some interesting people sitting around you during dinner, too. 
To find out about the dinners, sign-up on their mailing list.
See photos from all three events here.   

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