More than ever, people don’t only want exceptional food, they want to connect to its origins, know the people who produce its ingredients, and those who assemble them into tasty dishes. As long as we’re going that far, why not lift the curtain on the cooking process, too? In short, we want to feel as connected as possible to the things we eat (even if that means not actually cooking them ourselves). But often, restaurants don’t offer that experience, and even when that information is available, days are long and people are exhausted when they sit down to dine publicly. Finally, there’s that ever-present attention leech: our very smart, very all-encompassing, and very maddening phones.
All of this led Nate Gelb to start Tasting Collective. “Great food is definitely at the core of a great dining experience, but dining in my opinion should also be a social experience that brings people together and fosters good conversations and connections,” says Gelb. “Our events emphasize the social aspect of dining—all of our events are communal and dishes are served family-style—and brings chefs out of the kitchen to put them front and center.” In the front of the house, Tasting Collective Chefs introduce their dishes, talk about how they’re made, and where the ingredients come from, as well as share their personal food journeys. Tomorrow night, Tasting Collective will take over Glady’s in Crown Heights—a 2016 Michelin Bib Gourmand selection—for a (fittingly, in the midst of our winter flurries and post-Jonas) Caribbean feast from Chef and owner Michael Jacober.
At Glady’s, Chef Jacober’s eight-course Caribbean repast includes Jerk wings, baby Bock Choy sautéed in ginger and garlic, peppered shrimp, plantains, curried goat, rice and peas, jerk chicken, and coconut milk ice cream. Are you salivating? You should probably buy a ticket to the event tomorrow evening (and if you invite others, you can save five bucks while you’re at it).
Prior to starting Tasting Collective, Gelb worked at FoundersCard, a membership community for entrepreneurs that created networking events. But Gelb had always been a fan of shows like Top Chef, too, and delicious food. With Tasting Collective, he took the best of his community-forming, and entrepreneurial past and added it to his love of food, and the narratives behind them. Tomorrow at Glady’s, Gelb gives you the chance to—as far as he is concerned—experience the ideal of both community and food with an assist from Chef Jacober, who has worked previously at Per Se, Annisa, and Franny’s.
For the past six months, Tasting Collective has taken over restaurants across the city; so far stops include (but are not limited to) Miss Lily’s, Shalom Japan, Pig & Khao, Acme, and Chomp Chomp. Gelb says most gatherings occur at smaller restaurants that are independently owned, and that have received glowing reviews. All of that is in an effort to more successfully pull off his prime directive: avoiding scenarios that are overly-formal, eating delicious food socially, and having fun.
Our blizzard days might be over, but there’s more snow in the forecast. Consider giving yourself a little culinary reprieve from the cold by visiting the Caribbean via Glady’s, forgetting your phones for a minute (or night), and eating while you talk with New Yorker’s happy to be out of the snow, and sitting next to you.
Tasting Collective at Glady’s: 718 Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Tomorrow, February 9 at 8:30; tickets $45.