Kelly Geary, chef and owner of Bed-Stuy-based Sweet Deliverance (which turns organic produce from Paisley Farm’s CSA into whole meals delivered to your door), is doing her part to keep Brooklyn’s dining scene fresh with her series of pop-up dinners featuring road-tripping chefs who come into town just long enough to drop a few mind-blowing feasts on local groupies before jetting off to their next destination.
This weekend, Kelly is hosting the Underground Food Collective, a Madison, Wisconsin-based group who practice ‘collective cooking.’ At their dinners, no one is in charge. Everyone collaborates on the menu planning, the prep, the cooking and the serving, an approach that they believe produces food that’s better than any one member of the collective could do.
They’ll be serving up their family-style multi-course, seasonally-inspired meals at Sweet Deliverance’s spacious kitchen space this coming Friday, Saturday, and Monday (February 10th, 11th, and 13th).
We spoke with Kelly about what to expect.
So Kelly, tell us about the Underground Food Collective pop-ups.
They were last here in December. That went really well and sold out every night. It was really fun.
One of the most interesting thing about these guys is that they cook as a collective. No one’s in charge. They all bring their skills to the table, which is really cool. That’s something that might not normally go over so well in New York. We’re a pretty ego-driven city when it comes to food. As far as the food goes, I think we get along so well because we share the same ideas about what good food is. I really enjoy cooking with them.
They do a lot of their own cured meats. They’re from Wisconsin, and they got a grant from the state to open a meat processing lab, working with local, grass-fed animals, doing whole animal butchering, curing meats, creating jobs. It’s really interesting. They have a catering business also, and had a restaurant that opened up to rave reviews, but burned down a few months later. So now they’re doing pop-ups.
They’re bringing eight people out. It’s a lot of people.
Will you be cooking with them?
I am going to be cooking with them. It’s mostly their show, but we’re going to collaborate on some things. I’m going to try my hand at the collective approach. We’ll all be collaborating on all the dishes. I’m kind of excited about it.
Sounds like a sort of avant-garde jazz approach to cooking.
Yeah, in New York, people are usually like, “I need to show you what I can do!” These guys have a very different approach.
Do you have a menu set yet?
It’s still in progress. It’s going to have a South American feel, and it’ll be pretty meat-heavy but knowing these guys it’ll probably go down to the wire. We have a shared Google spreadsheet we’re using for the recipe planning, and whenever I look at it it’s completely different! Everything keeps changing! It’s still very much in the works!
How does it all work? What’s the format for the meal?
It’s a multi-course meal. Probably between five and seven courses, but very possibly more. Last time they did nine courses. And there was so much going on in each course, that it felt like more!
We’ll do a special cocktail at the beginning and the end of the evening too. They have a really amazing bartender who travels with them. He brought so much stuff with him last time – all these crazy bitters that he made, pickled fruits, it was really cool.
I’m picturing these guys having a graffiti-covered school bus and touring all over the country.
Ha ha. They actually fly, but that came up the last time they were here! We said we should just get an RV and hit the road – go anywhere and everywhere doing pop-up dinners!
Who shows up for these? Do you know most of the people?
I knew a few people, but there are always a lot more that I didn’t know. They find out about it through other people, or friends of friends, or seeing a mention of it online. It’s been really fun because most people don’t know each other. It’s an adventure.
So how did you meet up with these guys? Is there some sort of international network of people who do pop-up dinners?
I actually know these guys through a friend of mine who used to work for Slow Food. They’ve actually been doing pop-up dinners in New York for a few years. They’ve been using my space for the last three years. So I know them through Slow Food. They met each other playing bike polo!
Sweet Deliverance is hosting The Underground Food Collective’s pop-up feasts this Friday, Saturday, and Monday (February 10, 11 and 13), at their kitchen space at 1285 Atlantic Avenue, between Nostrand and New York Avenue, in Bed-Stuy.
Tickets are $65 per person. Reserve online here.