If you’ve been itching for a springtime road trip to Lafayette, the city’s first pop-up supper club might be just the excuse you’re looking for to jump in the car. Runaway Dish — a monthly dinner bringing together the city’s best chefs in support of an ever-rotating local charity — is making dining for a good cause even more appealing.
Just over a year ago, photographer and co-founder Denny Culbert joined a group that included Justin Girouard, chef of Lafayette’s The French Press, and La Petite Grocery’s Justin Devillier on a trip to Asheville, N.C. While in the mountains, the group attended a dinner hosted by Blind Pig, a non-profit group comprised of chefs from across the city who gather to cook meals for charity.
"What blew me away was that there were three chefs featured, but every other chef in Asheville came out,” said Culbert. Inspired to bring the concept home to Louisiana and forge stronger connections between the chefs in Lafayette, Culbert hosted the first Runaway Dish dinner in April 2013.
Similar to most underground supper clubs, diners don’t know the dinner’s location until the morning of the event. Unlike other pop-up dining experiences, Culbert has set out to build a multifaceted Runaway Dish mini-empire.
Earlier this year, the organization made its first foray into New Orleans with the Runaway Butcher boucherie. Butcher — a "chef-to-chef" concept — brought together 20 chefs from Lafayette and New Orleans for an all-day pork-inspired party in the Irish Channel.
Runaway Dish also produces a stunning quarterly journal that’s Acadiana’s answer to Lucky Peach, featuring mouthwatering dining photos, interviews with local chefs and more.
Last month’s dinner featured a main course straight out of The Satyricon: venison, stuffed inside a suckling pig, stuffed inside a roasted lamb. On Tuesday, April 22, Runaway Dish will host the first ever Runaway Feast, a Carolina-style picnic and barbeque in support of Festival International de Louisiane.
“We’re looking for more ways to get Lafayette and New Orleans chefs connected,” said Culbert. “Next, we’re hoping to pair up chefs to cook the same Runaway Dish dinner in both cities.”
Tickets for Tuesday’s Runaway Dish can be purchased here.