I mourned the loss of my prized dinner club. It was a foundational source of joy in my
life. I loved everything that it had to offer: the planning, the cooking, the setting and, most of all, the conversing.
But it had left me, vanishing into Chicago's urban landscape like a torn newspaper being sucked into a subway tunnel behind an accelerating train.
At first, I cursed the city I loved for taking away my dinner club. "People are too transient here," I lamented. Little did I know it would be the Second City that would be the key to an everlasting urban dinner club.
It happened one fateful day while I was having lunch at my regular Thursday spot. A fashionable fellow was flipping through recipes a couple of seats down
from me at the bar.
Curiosity turned into conversation. And what started with recipes soon turned toward me lamenting over my lost dinner club. It was easy for the
stranger, who had introduced himself as Stephen, to commiserate as he had recently lost a dinner club of
"Maybe we should start our own dinner club?" Stephen proclaimed. I was leery. But as I saw his eyes glow behind his square, black eyeglass frames, I knew
that our dinner club had already taken flight.
Named after the mandatory number of participants and my fastidiousness for throwing a dinner party, Six en Place would develop a large invite list and a framework of rules that turned a get-together into a community of urban, adventurous and expressive foodies, some of whom, like Stephen and me, had never known each other until their first invite. It would have a framework of rules and a large invite list. But most of all, it would reveal that dinner clubs are not just about the setting, the food or even the people who attend them.
It is about coming together for that deep-seated pleasure we all have when people form a community over great food.
//Chicago-based tableware designer Janet Torelli can currently be found cooking up scrumptous meals on her Big Green Egg.