Breaking news for Boston area foodies who chomp at the bit for each new culinary delight: New Orleans based Dinner Lab, the pop-up dining maker with a twist, has finally come to Boston. First supper will be held on February 20, mystery location to-be-revealed, with Mario Rodriguez, a Babson College alumnus who cooked at New York’s Gramercy Tavern before heading down to NOLA to help grow the Little Culinary Disruptor That Could.
This Examiner has been following Dinner Lab since meeting Rodriguez through Babson connections a few years ago. In the summer of 2013, Rodriguez wrote: “I’ve been hired by a small start-up run by Tulane MBA grads. The company is called Dinner Lab. They’re based in New Orleans but operate in Austin, Nashville, and soon New York Los Angeles as well.”
Fast forward eighteen months, and Dinner Lab now hosts events in 24 cities across the U.S. They have accrued great press in the New York Times as well as in Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine for their innovative approach to fundraising.
“In the simplest sense,” Rodriguez wrote, “Dinner Lab is a platform for up and coming chefs to create their favorite cuisines in non-conventional spaces, and for people who appreciate good food and great company. We remove the trappings of the traditional restaurant and strip back the dining experience to its most raw and essential form through three key ingredients – great people, unique food, and interesting locations.”
The company’s COO Paco Robert is leading the Boston launch. Robert explained to this Examiner how Dinner Lab disrupts the culinary industry on two fronts. On the kitchen side of things, there aren’t easy ascension pathways for a restaurant’s “seconds and thirds,” the talent serving directly under the executive chef. Through Dinner Lab, ambitious sous chefs can experiment and iterate their own ideas on a platform that offers direct and immediate feedback from customers. And on the dining room side, customers have direct access to the maker of the meal in a manner generally unheard of in the industry. Typically, diners either wait for the food critic’s report or head to Yelp (or, in extreme cases, demand to speak to a manager). Dinner Lab allows diners to share in the creative process in order to constructively shape future menus.
The Boston Globe’s Kara Baskin broke the story of Dinner Lab’s arrival into Boston. Move quick if you want a membership (last minute stocking stuffer?) and seats at the inaugural dinner on February 20. They’re sure to sell like hotcakes.