March Dinner in the Dark
By Michelle Venorsky, Special to Metromix
Dinner in the Dark, Cleveland's latest foodie fascination, brings together six different chefs (though truthfully, there's usually more that show up) each month cooking together, often for the first time, at a different restaurant. Diners aren't literally eating in the dark. What they are in the dark about, however, is exactly what they are eating (read: special food requests or allergies, this may not be the event for you) and who exactly made it.
Dinner in the Dark was created by chefs Brian Okin, Ellis Cooley and Jeff Jarrett. Several months ago, Okin had this thought: "Chefs often get together after work for a few beers and talk, but wouldn't it be great to actually get together in the same kitchen and see first-hand that technique they mentioned, or this new dish they tried?"
"So Brian put out the question to a few chefs about getting together and creating something unique and Jeff and I responded," said Cooley. "Then all our ideas kind of morphed together. We put a charity tie into it and it escalated from there. Truthfully, we thought we'd do it once or twice—never anticipated this kind of response or turnout."
Dinner in the Dark, now in its sixth monthly dinner, nearly sells out each time. March's event took place at Bistro on Lincoln Park in Tremont.
"All three of us have great principles and believe in giving back, as do most of the local chefs," explained Jarrett. "So having a charity component was very important to us and gives us the opportunity to pick something truly local and something that all the chefs can see right away the small difference we made."
Each month the chefs pick a different charity to support, and often ask the participating chefs for feedback. March's charity benefited the Tremont Farmers' Market and Urban Community Schools. Ticket prices to each dinner cost $65 (plus tax and gratuity) and include six courses, plus wine or cocktail pairings. All proceeds benefit that month's charity and, on average, $3,000-$5,000 per dinner is raised.