The experimental dinners popped up at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, a contemporary art gallery in Downtown Albuquerque and other intriguing locations, which are revealed to ticketholders 24 hours before the event. The whole point is to bring strangers together and have them leave as friends who shared in a one-of-kind experience, according to Dig & Serve co-founder Brandon Gregoire.
“From the time people arrive, we are trying to kind of play with what they hear or what they see and what they taste and what they drink,” Gregoire said. “The dinners are very planned where from the time people get there to the time they leave, we take all that into consideration. Whether it be the lighting or the music while a certain course (is served) or the pairing of a certain course with a certain drink, we really try to throw people off sometimes by including so much sensory overload that it creates a memory.”
Dig & Serve’s goal is to create experiences that people are not ready for.
“The cool thing is that experience doesn’t happen again,” Gregoire said. “We don’t do the same dinners each time, so that group of people who got to experience it, they experience it as a group and they have their individual memories.”
Its public events sell out quickly, including its first anniversary dinner, scheduled for Sunday, March 12. But there is time to be part of its donation-based collaboration event with Food Karma on March 19 and to buy tickets for an event in May. Gregoire advises to check Dig & Serve’s website frequently to get in on the action.
Dig & Serve is collaborating with Food Karma, which runs the Karma Cafe in Albuquerque, a nonprofit, pay-what-you-can restaurant that survives on donations.
“What we’re going to kind of formulize is a cross-sector partnership, basically a partnership between a nonprofit and a for profit so we can utilize resources, share expenses between the two companies,” Gregoire said. “One of the things that we’re doing is we’re launching a farm (near Bridge and Five Points). … We have about a half-acre of farmland down there. We’re going to have a little greenhouse. We’ll have stuff planted there starting in the spring, as well as ducks, chickens and geese that we’ll utilize for their eggs and things for Food Karma as well as for Dig & Serve.”
Dig & Serve and Food Karma will remain separate entities but share resources with each other to be better and more efficient, according to Gregoire.
“It provides a good marketing angle for both businesses,” he explained. “It also provides a good grant writing opportunity for Food Karma because we want to try and do some work training programs on the farm. Be able to possibly hire people who eat at Food Karma who might not necessarily be able to get a regular 9 to 5 job but we might be able to teach them some farming skills and pay them… We can really utilize a lot our skills to grow (Food Karma’s) audience to help them become more sustainable and they can help us with the kitchen and with food production and things like that. It’s a pretty good relationship.”