The Pop-Up

It has been a little slow around here lately.  Rainy winter weather and work have kept me rather isolated.  I’ve been doing quite a lot of cooking, but because this is not a food blog, I will spare you the details.

I’m no food-writer, and since I know people that are, I’m aware of how inappropriate any kind of restaurant review or blog post would be.  Besides that, Max has forbidden me from ever going public with my thoughts about any particular restaurant in any other than the most lay of fashions.  Which is totally appropriate, I think, since we are so encircled by the service industry these days.  That said, being that we are constantly surrounded by San Francisco food culture, almost everything we do involves a food component these days.

Last weekend we attended the pop-up restaurant project of a young chef who used to work with Max. He and his girlfriend will be moving out of state soon, so he is using this time to refine dishes and concepts for his eventual brick and mortar restaurant.  He is testing his vision without the investors and the risk and seeing if it works.  He serves a multi-course menu at his home with his girlfriend and two others working service with him.

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Photo credit to Andrew Cheng.

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Photo by Andrew Cheng

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Of course, this is not a new idea.  Max and I have been going to pop-ups for years.  Though, it wasn’t the first of its kind, one of the innovators of the pop-up restaurant was Ludo Lefebvre.  We got in on it pretty early when he first appeared at Bread Bar on Melrose.  Oh man, we thought we were pretty cool!  We’ve rightly kept up with Ludo as he went on to host several more pop-ups and then, more recently, to open his brick and mortar restaurants Trois Mec and Petite Trois in Los Angeles.

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At one of the later pop-up dinners with Ludo and some friends.

We next starting taking interest in a pop-up in Downtown Los Angeles hosted in the chef’s loft.  It was a lottery system to get invited, but as it turns out, you kind of needed to know someone.  We fell-in with the LA food crowd and attended quite a few of Chef Craig’s dinners.  Eventually, I hosted Max’s birthday at a dinner of Craig’s, which was a really neat thing to be able to do.

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Me and some of the ladies at Max’s pop-up birthday dinner.

And the friendship eventually spawned a work-relationship, which involved Max hooking Craig up with my mother-in-law’s museum for his first museum-based pop-up event.  I was lucky enough to attend. He later went on to host his pop-up all over the country in some very high-profile spots.

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Craig’s first pop-up at SMMOA

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What a cool space to eat!

Max has even had a pop-up of his very own!  It was called BRK Dining, and Max and his friend also named Max hosted dinners out of other Max’s condo in West Hollywood.  It became quite successful and continues on today, obviously without husband-Max.  I would often help serve or do dishes.  BRK was a really fun project for Max, and it introduced him to the concept of curating guests and to the art of service.  (FYI-if you ever go to one of these fancy-shmancy restaurants, know that they have Googled the shit out of you.  They know where you work and have probably checked out all your social media accounts.)  It even ended up getting them a little press!  Pretty exciting stuff!

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A BRK dinner prep

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Max getting mic’d for an interview about BRK

Through BRK and Twitter, Max connected with a VERY young chef in his teens, but already quite accomplished, named Flynn.  Love Flynn.  He offered his sous chef services to BRK and started putting on his own pop-up out of his parents’ house in Los Angeles and other restaurant spaces.  Max worked with him as his wine dude whenever possible.  Flynn went on to work at some great LA restaurants, then traveled to Europe and staged at some of the greats, before heading to NY, where he resides currently, to open his pop-up there.

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At one of Flynn’s dinner at his home.

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From one of Flynn’s dinners at the restaurant space, Tiara.

I guess I know a thing or two about pop-up restaurants.  If you follow food and ever have the opportunity, I think going to these types of events is an awesome way to find a chef you love and get to follow them from day-one.  I, myself, have watched as some of these pop-up chefs go on to great notoriety, and can say I was there “back when”.  We certainly have had a lot of fun following some of our favorites around to all these different locations over the years!

P.S. This post spans a lotta years! I had a lot of fun going back through the photo archives looking for all of these pictures.  Know that this is a mere sampling! haha!

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