Yum Yum: Pop-up Dining

Pop-ups are all the rage these days. From yoga studios to designer clothing sales, it seems like every time you blink a new pop-up is, well, popping up. We’re especially fond of the underground food scene Toronto chefs and food fans are developing. Events like TUM and Food Truck Eats have made line-ups for tacos de rigueur, but often you just can’t beat a dinner party – preferably one prepared by a chef with wine or cocktail pairings.

Secret Pickle Supper Club – @secretpickle

Chef Matt Cantor hard at work.

Founded by Alexa Clark and Chef Matt Kantor, the Secret Pickle Supper Club is designed for the unpretentious food lover. They call themselves a “different kind of supper club”, preferring to keep the prices low and creativity high. Past themes have included dinner cooked with tea, Spanish and exploration of pastries. Recently, Brilynn Ferguson created a documentary on the club, explaining their origin and offering unique insight into the Pickle experience. You can view the Pickle Doc on the website and sign up to their mailing list to keep updated on future events.

House of Commons

HoC dinner for Hermann & Audrey during 2011 CONTACT.

Inspired by Prohibition-era speakeasies (if you watch Boardwalk Empire, you know what we’re talking about), House of Commons hosts a variety of pop-up dining events in clandestine locations around the city. From brunch to cocktails to multi-course dinners, they do it all. The meals are prepared by a rotating cadre of chefs and a sommelier from time to time, but one thing remains consistent – Sarah Evans, the mastermind behind it all.
The website is a bit out of date, so email to find out about their upcoming events. Also, Evans also does custom events. If you’ve got a special occasion coming up, impress your friends and let Evans do all the dirty work for you.

Charlie’s Burgers – @charliesburgers

So swish they’ve got their own champagne.

Charlie’s Burgers is the granddaddy of all pop-up dining in Toronto. Don’t let the name fool you though; you’re more likely to chow down on crickets than a haute quarter pounder. In the three years since its inception, Charlie’s Burgers has hosted dozens of dinners across Toronto (plus Paris and London). The focus of each dinner is to pair great libations with even greater food, offering talented chefs free reign on the menu. The resulting menus are dazzling, unique and often a bit esoteric. Tickets to the dinners go quickly, but consider yourself warned – they carry a hefty price tag. There is no information on the website, but enter your email address here and Charlie will get back to you.

Death Row Meals – @foodie411

Taco prep at the inaugural Death Row Meals.

Death Row Meals is the brainchild of one of Toronto’s number one food fan, Joel Solish. As the name suggests, participating chefs aim to create a dining experience based on the principle of the last meal on earth and the perfect plate. Each Death Row Meal takes place at a different location, with a different theme and chefs. Solish’s overarching goal is to educate people on how to eat smarter, focusing on local and sustainable food systems. Can’t wait to try it? You’re in luck, because the next dinner is this Sunday! Called “The Bitter Truth”, this dinner features an all-female line up of chefs who will be cooking with cocktail bitters. Get your tickets here before they’re gone or sign up here to stay in the loop for upcoming meals.

The Hidden Kitchen – @IvyKnight

Sturgeon caviar dish from Chef Nick Liu.

And finally, we’d be remiss if we left out Ivy’s Knight’s newest endeavour – the Hidden Kitchen. This monthly pop-up from the 86’d host and Chef Matt Kantor will collaborate with a celeb-chef to create menus based on local ingredients. They’ve also partnered with Muskoka Brewery on the 40-seat endeavour. April’s BBQ-themed event took place last night, but keep checking the event page to find out about upcoming dinners.