I have this constant desire for new and unique experiences. And with Megan’s birthday just around the corner, I was thinking about what to have for dinner. We usually had dinner somewhere and called it good. This year, though, I wanted to do something we’ve never done before. Then the idea came to me, why not invite some friends and hire a chef and a mixologist for a private dinner at our home?
Determining which mixologist to use was a breeze as we took a class at Exploration Place hosted by the master mixologist Nelson Scalante. So, I asked on my Facebook page for suggestions of chefs to hire. There were a lot of comments and one that came up was for Gerard Rodriguez, that people might know from R Coffee House and Adios Nachoria to Wave. A few years ago, we attended a 5 course Valentine’s Day dinner at the Wave which Rodriguez hosted and loved. So, familiar with Rodriguez and Escalante’s work, I reached out to them to see if a private dinner was something they would be open to.
They were, and it was officially on. Megan and I had meetings with both of us to determine desires, tastes, dishes and spirits we didn’t like. In the end, we didn’t want rules. Creative freedom is so important to me and giving them the chance to express what they wanted in their dishes was the number one priority. We walked away having no idea what our private 5 course meal would be like.
On the night of our dinner, all we needed to provide were cutlery, a table, chairs, and clean space in the kitchen for them to work their magic. They handled everything else from plates, stemware, you name it. Escalante and Rodriguez showed up about an hour before our dinner date to get everything prepped and prepped. Each of them also had someone to help them.
We loved that they even made the menu cards. It all looked so professional.
Our dinner began with toast and a shot of tequila from Rodriguez, which gave everyone an idea of what to expect. Many of our dishes and beverages even used locally owned produce, restaurants, and spirits like PeeWee+Sweet’s Bakehouse, Greatness Vodka, Una Vida Tequila, and Kan-Grow Hydro Farm. Many of the plates used for the night were also handcrafted and made here in Wichita by Del Notre Ceramics. To follow the trend, we used locally owned Knork for cutlery.
Here’s what we ate during our dinner and cocktail experience:
Course OneChorizo | mango | Pickled Carrots and Onions | Date coulis charred prairie loaf
CocktailGrandezza Vodka Peach-Cherry | Pineapple | Citrus Blend Honey | Hibiscus cube | Topo Chico
Course twoSeared scallops | Mole Green
CocktailCitadelle Jardin d’Été Gin | Herbal liqueur | Guava Syrup | Lime Cracked Pepper | Sea foam
Course ThreeBarramundi | Brown Butter Cashew Mole | Charred Asparagus Salmon Roe | Garlic Chips
CocktailUna Vida Reposado | Rothman Peach Liqueur | Tri-Pepper Shrub Spiced Agave Syrup | Lemon | Orange bitters
Course FourBeef Rib Enchiladas | Nopal | Mole Guajillo | This Fresco
CocktailCooper’s Chase Small Batch Bourbon | Cocchi Vermouth Turin | Smoking Creme de Cacao | Dark Cherry | Guajillo Agave | Xocolatl Mole Bitter
Course FiveClassic Churros | Fresh whip | Gaeta | Compote of wild berries
CocktailCanerock Jamaican Spiced Rum | Ferrand Dry Curaçao | Homemade Horchata | Banana Brulee | Espresso Powder Black Walnut Bitter | Cinnamon ‘Cigar’
Oh my. Everything was so wonderful and everyone at the table couldn’t help but compliment the dishes and drink pairings throughout the evening. It was so much food. I have done many blind dinners already and always underestimate how full I will be during the evening. At one point I even got up from the table to go and take off my belt. I think my waistline got a couple of inches wider, but it was all in the name of good food and drink.
Perfect is the best way to describe it. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate a birthday. The night was incredible and full of laughter and silent moments of praise every time someone took a sip or bite. Escalante, Rodriguez and their team took care of everything from setting up, to cleaning, to food preparation, to service. It was like being in a restaurant in your own home. We really can’t thank them enough for the experience they provided.
And for me, I have to be honest. As someone who dines out several times a week and gets the most out of making memories, this was the kind of dining experience I needed for my soul.
One of the questions I will get will be the cost of a night like this. It all boils down to what you want in terms of dishes and/or drinks. The price can vary greatly on this one. This is certainly not a cheap outing and it shouldn’t be as everything suits you. They come to your home and handle everything from start to finish. So we also tipped everyone involved on the night. This is definitely something best reserved for special moments and if you’re willing to splurge.
To contact Nelson Escalante, you can send him a private message on Facebook. He also does private mixology lessons if you’re interested. For Gerard Rodriguez, you can message R Coffee House on Facebook or Instagram.
Have a good dinner, Eddy
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