Short description of the project – idea, strategy:
Secret Dinner is a monthly pop-up event for those who love good food with accompanying wines and drinks, all spiced up with excitement and some uncompromised secrecy. The best Slovenian chefs, unusual locations, thematic menus and great company are the common themes for these evenings. Menus are inspired by the chosen location and the chef’s enthusiasm; here rules only exist mostly to be disobeyed. Only the chef’s name and time of the events are known; the exact location of the pop-up restaurant is revealed three hours before the dinner. After the guests arrive they get to know about the dishes they are about to taste. The central idea is to attract and connect a colourful bunch of attendees that share the same passion and to present Slovenia’s best, enriching our country as a destination with yet another tasty and trendy reason to visit.
As the menus (and locations) are a well-kept secret, it is hard to cater for people with special needs or specific dietary requests. Chefs love to spread their wings and their imagination is limitless, especially when it is a one-off event that doesn’t need to be typically conditioned to a format within which they prepare food in their restaurants. The menus are also developed as part of a story that the location inspires and for some people it is sometimes hard to understand that this event is not meant to be a typical restaurant with multiple menu choices, shiny toilets, ideal temperatures, comfy seats or valet service, but a special event that is all packed into a unforgettable story. Everyone is taking part in the risks here – the guests not knowing what they have paid for and risking that they might not like it all, and the organisers in trying to cater for as many needs possible in the best way possible, making the guests experience a great evening to remember.
When guests inquire about the possibilities for changing the initial menu due to their diets and it is too radical for a chef to be able to do something extraordinary, we usually give them the fair advice not to join the party, as they would simply not have the complete experience. This is also set out on the website application, yet interestingly most of them agree to even take less, simply to be able to join the experience and feel the special atmosphere. As for the chefs, they try to meet most of the needs and changes in diets, but it has to be borne in mind that is not a restaurant and there is no fully equipped kitchen nearby.
After the event – overview, effectiveness:
The first Secret Dinner was held on the 12th of September in Križevniška church in Ljubljana, with Bine Volčič, the widely respected head chef of Monstera Bistro, who produced a delicious, modern four-course meal that was inspired by the flavours and ingredients supposedly used in The Last Supper, as some historic researchers have claimed. Guests enjoyed the historic atmosphere of a magnificent church, tantalizing dishes and some well selected wines to go with them, all with The Doors rock anthems creating a relaxed atmosphere at the long, black candle-lit tables. For the second, also sold-out dinner (revealing the secret these days…), that will be catered by Uroš Mijailovič, chef of the Arboretum Golf Club Restaurant, there will be some home returnees – so they must be doing something right!