What are secret suppers?

Secret suppers are exclusive, intimate dining experiences hosted in non-restaurant locations. Chefs prepare gourmet meals in unconventional spaces like private homes, art galleries, warehouses or lofts. The locations are undisclosed until shortly before the event, adding an air of mystery and excitement. Secret suppers often have limited seating, creating an exclusive vibe. The communal dining style fosters a spirit of camaraderie among strangers. Secret suppers allow diners to try unique menus and connect with fellow food enthusiasts in one-of-a-kind settings.

What is the history of secret suppers?

Secret suppers originated in the 1980s in Paris as an underground dining movement called dîners en ville (“dinners in town”). French chefs hosted pop-up dinners in non-commercial spaces as a way to experiment creatively outside the confines of a restaurant. The dinners were promoted by word-of-mouth to bypass restaurant regulations. Soon secret supper clubs popped up in European cities like Amsterdam and Berlin. The trend spread across the Atlantic in the late 1990s, taking hold in major U.S. cities. Popularized by websites like EatFeastly and UndergroundEats, secret suppers are now a worldwide phenomenon.

How do secret suppers work?

Secret suppers require guests to purchase tickets in advance, as there is very limited seating. Events are often promoted through social media, email newsletters or by word-of-mouth. The exact address is only revealed to ticket holders 24-48 hours before the event. Upon arrival, diners check in and are escorted to their seats by the hosts. A fixed menu is prepared showcasing the chef’s signature dishes. Ingredients are sourced from local farms and markets. Wine pairings may be available too. The intimate setting facilitates conversation between guests who often share a passion for food. Seating ranges from one long banquet-style table to separate small tables. Meals can last 2-3 hours, allowing diners to linger over multiple courses. Many secret suppers have themes, like an homage to a certain cuisine or collaboration between chefs. The communal, unconventional nature creates a memorable gastronomic experience.

What are some common locations for secret suppers?

Secret suppers are hosted in a wide variety of intriguing locations, including:

  • Private homes or apartments
  • Art galleries and museums
  • Warehouses or industrial spaces
  • Lofts or studios
  • Gardens or greenhouses
  • Rooftops
  • Boats or yachts
  • Farms or wineries
  • Vacation rentals like cabins or villas
  • Event venues on off nights

The setting is an integral part of the experience. Unusual locations help transform the meal into a one-of-a-kind event. Hosts often decorate spaces with mood lighting, flowers, candles and other embellishments. Some locations offer impressive views as a backdrop. The locale may complement the cuisine, like dining in a greenhouse for a farm-to-table meal. Chefs aim to create an immersive atmosphere from the second diners arrive.

What types of meals are served at secret suppers?

Secret supper menus highlight the culinary skills of the chefs. Here are some common meal types and cuisines:

  • Multi-course tasting menus – Several small gourmet plates per course, allowing diners to sample a variety.
  • Food and wine pairings – Courses accompanied by wines chosen to complement flavors.
  • Cooking collaborations – Dishes blending cuisines, like Filipino and Mediterranean.
  • Ethnic menus – Authentic plates from global culinary traditions.
  • Seasonal ingredients – Menus evolving based on fresh, local produce.
  • Dinner with a theme – Meals focused on concepts like pho or Italian pastas.
  • Molecular gastronomy – Innovative cuisine using science-based techniques.
  • Tasting panels – Comparative plates of wines, cheeses, etc.

Chefs often push culinary boundaries with unique ingredients, cooking methods and visual presentations. The intimate setting allows them to offer adventurous menus not found at their restaurants. Menus usually consist of at least 3 courses lasting several hours.

What is a typical secret supper menu?

While menus vary widely, here is an example multi-course menu:

Course Dishes
Welcome Bites Amuse-bouches like crostini and deviled eggs
First Course Pan-seared scallops with curried cauliflower puree
Second Course Frisee salad with poached pears, walnuts, gorgonzola
Main Course Herb-crusted rack of lamb with celery root gratin
Cheese Course Artisanal cheese and charcuterie platter with crostini
Dessert Course Chocolate lava cake with vanilla bean ice cream

Welcome bites ease guests into the meal before more substantial courses. Main dishes often feature premium proteins and seasonal produce. The leisurely formats allows for palate cleansers like sorbets between courses. Shared plates cultivate community and conversation. Menus are localized based on available ingredients and the chef’s cuisine style.

What should I expect as a secret supper guest?

Secret suppers provide a unique dining experience. Here’s what to expect as a guest:

  • Limited seating – Smaller groups of usually 6-15 diners.
  • Communal dining – Shared tables facilitate mingling.
  • Structured courses – Multiple thoughtfully crafted courses.
  • Surprise location – Undisclosed venue revealed last minute.
  • Themed décor – Elevates the unconventional space.
  • Meet the chef – Chefs often greet and mingle with guests.
  • Adventurous cuisine – Inventive dishes diners won’t find elsewhere.
  • Foodie conversation – Chatting with fellow diners who are food enthusiasts.
  • Excellent service – Attentive servers ensure an elegant experience.

The intimate ambiance encourages guests to savor both the food and the new friendships formed over the meal. Secret suppers offer dinner and a show, delighting diners with culinary surprises in intriguing venues.

How much do secret suppers cost?

Pricing depends on the number of courses, types of food and drinks, and the chef’s rates. Here are typical price ranges:

  • $50-$150 per person for 3-5 courses in a modest private home.
  • $150-$300+ per person for 5-7 courses in a high-end venue.
  • $100-$250 for wine pairings.
  • 20%+ gratuity for service staff.

Ingredients from specialty purveyors and the intimate setting justify the higher costs. Rates usually align with the caliber of the chef and the uniqueness of the location. Secret suppers provide exceptional value compared to restaurant tasting menus. Many diners consider the extraordinary experiences well worth the splurge.

How do I find secret suppers to attend?

Secret suppers are mostly advertised by word-of-mouth, but you can also find events through:

  • Social media – Chefs promote suppers on Instagram and Facebook.
  • Email newsletters – Subscribe to chef or venue newsletters.
  • Websites – Aggregators like EatWith post underground dining options.
  • Apps – Try apps like Feastly and Table22 to find local suppers.
  • Eventbrite – Search for secret suppers on this events site.
  • Food festivals – Chefs host promotional pop-ups.
  • Culinary schools – Student chef events advertised locally.

The exclusive nature means seats are quickly snapped up by foodies. Book well in advance or get on waitlists for the most coveted events. Check chef websites regularly for new dinner announcements.

What are the benefits of attending a secret supper?

Attending a secret supper offers many unique benefits, including:

  • Exclusive experience – Intimate events with limited availability.
  • Adventurous cuisine – Food you won’t find at any restaurant.
  • Up close with chef – Meet talent you admire.
  • Out-of-the-box locations – Dine in settings like rooftops, gardens, etc.
  • Delight of discovery – Mystery venue revealed at last minute.
  • Luxury touches – Fine details like flowers, candles, music.
  • Community dining – Share a table and converse with fellow foodies.
  • Reasonable prices – Better value than many fine dining restaurants.

For food enthusiasts, secret suppers provide unforgettable dining escapades. The communal atmosphere creates a lively, festive vibe. Dinners become a talking point long after the final bite.

What are some tips for an enjoyable secret supper?

Follow these tips to make the most of your underground dining experience:

  • Arrive on time so you don’t miss courses.
  • Dress nicely – events are often upscale occasions.
  • Bring cash for gratuity.
  • Engage with your fellow diners.
  • Embrace the communal dining style.
  • Savor the food – no rushing through courses.
  • Limit alcohol intake so flavors remain sharp.
  • Notify hosts ahead of time of any dietary restrictions.
  • Silence phones to stay present in the experience.
  • Relax and enjoy this rare, intimate event.

Immerse yourself in the scene, conversation and culinary artistry. Follow cues from servers and other diners. Secret suppers offer the chance to dine, connect and delight in food with fellow adventurous eaters.

What are the risks of secret suppers?

While secret suppers provide unique experiences, there are some risks to consider:

  • Food safety – Less regulation in non-restaurant settings.
  • Allergies – Cross-contamination risks.
  • Alcohol – Overserving without licensed staff monitoring.
  • Dividing costs – Confusion around bills and tips.
  • Getting home – Transportation from remote areas.
  • Privacy concerns – Entering private homes.
  • Event changes – Last minute cancellations or venue switches.
  • Fraudulent listings – Diners showing up to fake events.

Vet events carefully, read reviews, check hosts’ social media. Use common sense precautions around food and alcohol consumption. Travel with a group and have transportation planned. While extremely rare, be aware secret suppers come with certain risks.

Are secret suppers legal?

The legal status of secret suppers is murky. Regulations surrounding private events and food service vary by locale. In general:

  • Zoning laws may prohibit regular commercial activity in residential areas.
  • Food safety and alcohol laws likely don’t apply to private events.
  • Secret suppers walk a fine line between private dinner parties and public restaurants.
  • Many operate in legal grey areas without licenses and inspections.
  • Chefs may be violating their restaurant or catering licenses by working underground gigs.
  • Officials often look the other way knowing enforcement is difficult.

Hosts strive to stay under the radar by keeping events infrequent, attendance small and promotion limited. Legal crackdowns are rare as long as problems don’t arise. Diners participate at their own risk. The illicit nature provides some of the thrill for foodies.


Secret suppers offer adventure-seeking foodies the chance to experience underground dining events in intimate, unconventional settings. The communal feasts allow guests to connect with chefs, savor inventive cuisine, and bond with fellow diners in one-of-a-kind locations. These exclusive pop-up dinners come with certain risks and legal grey areas but provide indelible dining memories for those fortunate enough to secure a coveted seat at the table.

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