Not-So-Secret Supper Club

There’s no sign out front. No two menus are ever the same. Walk-ins are not accepted. One would be hard pressed to call this arrangement a “restaurant” by the traditional definition, and yet the chef plays to a rapt audience, selling out tickets for almost every dining session. Bay area natives will likely know this poorly kept “secret” supper club well, striking up the band with Sound & Savor for over 13 years now. My first experience in this elusive underground establishment left a lasting memory, filled with the warmth of community as well as good food, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Attending dinners and classes almost as often as they’re offered, Chef Philip Gelb and I became fast friends in the process.

Known as much for his confidence with spice as his finesse with more delicate flavors, Phil has a style that doesn’t fit well into any predefined category, unafraid to cook to his own beat. Now he’s sharing that same approach with voracious eaters abroad, with the release of Vegan Underground: Improvisations on World Cuisines.

The contents transcend superficial cultural boundaries, seamlessly merging the defining characteristics of multiple distinctive cuisines into a brand new culinary adventure. Venturing boldly into unexplored territory, these recipes remain approachable, familiar for their original roots, recalling all the best flavor notes from high to low.

From Trinidad doubles to fiery mapo tofu, crispy fried okra to pistachio-walnut ice cream, the diverse range of delicious options promises appetizing options for all palates. Ramen remains a particular favorite of mine, and it’s a true pleasure to finally see other perennial crowd-pleasers like the green gazpacho and polenta peach cake in print.

Capturing the photos for this fresh compilation, I was lucky enough to experience these meals in person, as cooked by the master, but I can vouch for this home cook’s translation as well. Since not everyone, locals included, are lucky enough to snag seats for these limited engagements, I’m absolutely thrilled to give away a copy of Vegan Underground to four readers! Enter through August 10th by commenting below: Have you ever been to an “underground” restaurant, or have you dreamed of starting your own? Tell me about your experiences and ideas! Log your submission on the official giveaway page, and find additional ways to improve your odds there, too.

For as many cookbooks flood the marketplace every year, there are none that can match the creativity and sheer passion found within these pages. You won’t find Vegan Underground in mainstream bookstores or on, so don’t miss your chance to own a copy today.

20 thoughts on “Not-So-Secret Supper Club

  1. I’ve never even HEARD of them. so it would be really interesting to try and go find one. but if they are underground…. it might be a bit of an adventure discovering them

  2. I’ve been to the Vegan Secret Supper series by Chef Mérida in Montreal. The most memorable event was in the Mile-End at a vegan bar with four bowling lanes. These meals were the poshest I’ve ever eaten and always a fun evening.

  3. I’ve been to one in Amsterdam, it was truly an amazing experience! It’s really interesting how they manage to get the word out there without the commercial factor that a “normal” restaurant has.

  4. I’ve certainly dreamed of having an underground restaurant but the closest I’ve come is attending the odd pop-up here and there. Still: tasty is as tasty does. :)

  5. I’ve had the good fortune to attend several different underground supper clubs, all of which were delightful. The one in my mind at the moment was a Forage Dinner in SF, romantic table for twenty strangers eating locally sourced wild foods elegantly prepared. I enjoy the adventurous spirit coupled with a shared appreciation of food – recommended!

  6. i went to one of sound and savor’s cooking classes and it was incredibly delicious. i’m always jealous of your ramen and peach posts!!!

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