The idea for Fork Monkey, a company that bills itself as “the underground food network,” was sown in Berlin, at a chef-curated dinner party that the club’s co-founder Marta Kuersten Wolaver didn’t think she would get into.
“I read about it in a newspaper and sent an email on a whim, thinking I’d never get in, but I ended up getting a response! It was the highlight of my trip,” says Wolaver. That was in 2009. When she got back to New York, Wolaver went in search of that experience. But she didn’t find anything like it until 2014 when dinner parties like EatWith, Book a Lokal, and Feastly emerged.
She started attending supper clubs regularly, but it was difficult to locate exactly what she was looking for. “I noticed that a lot of these events were really focused on the social aspect. I was looking for that, but I also wanted that magical element I had found at that first dinner party in Berlin. The chef had a vision for what he was trying to create, and he’d executed it beautifully,” explains Wolaver.
“There were definitely some parties that had that special something, but it was hard to find them. I thought, maybe there’s room to do something more curated,” she says. “We could be the voice telling people to go to this supper club or that supper club.”
When people plan their trips, they often turn to Yelp or TripAdvisor for other travelers’ takes on restaurants to eat at and things to do. Fork Monkey is the more personalized version of that idea, targeted specifically to what Wolaver calls “unique, vacation-altering food experiences.”
Fork Monkey accomplishes that lofty goal through a membership program that goes beyond just pointing hungry travelers in the direction of unique and delicious underground eats. At the moment, there are two levels of membership: The basic members program gives access to all of the Fork Monkey–approved events in the cities where the company operates, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. ($69 annually); the premium membership includes personalized, concierge-style suggestions from Fork Monkey for cities worldwide ($129 annually).
With the basic membership, food lovers get access to events like five-course Mediterranean and Moroccan-style dinners (Los Angeles, February 24 and 25, and New York City, February 24, respectively); an interactive tasting menu at a pop-up restaurant (Chicago, March 4); a meal prepared by a chef in his own studio (Toronto, March 10); and a multi-course vegetarian tasting menu featuring upscale dishes made with spring vegetables (Chicago, March 26).
Clearly, the membership price is definitely worth it for what you get—but it’s even better to opt for the premium membership. The concierge approach is where Fork Monkey really shines. “We have such a large network of people who are doing this alternative stuff,” says Wolaver. “It goes beyond supper clubs now—there are food tours, dinners on farms . . . we can recommend all sorts of experiences.” Whether you’re looking for a special, delicious night in your own neighborhood or traveling farther afield and in search of something, well, vacation altering, Fork Monkey has you covered.
Learn more and apply to be a Fork Monkey member at www.forkmonkey.com.
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