Skip to comments.CBS 2 Investigation: Underground — And Illegal — NYC Dinner Parties
Posted on 09/11/2013 8:16:54 PM PDT by iowamark
As you sit down to dinner, this story illustrates eating out like you have never experienced before. We are talking about super-secret, illegal dining experiences hosted in homes.
CBS 2 investigative reporter Tamara Leitner went undercover to see firsthand how this underground world works.
It may look like a dinner party, but its really an underground supper club.
The diners are a mix of New Yorkers and tourists. CBS 2s undercover cameras captured one experience eight people who didnt know each other eating a meal in a strangers home.
That hostess, Naama Shafi, writes about food but is not a chef. Leitner found her through a website, which connects amateur foodies and professional chefs in 20 different countries with people who want unique dining experiences.
Clandestine dinner parties like the one Leitner attended have become more common in New York City. And insiders told Leitner they are completely unregulated.
When asked at the dinner, do you ever worry about getting caught? Michael Patlazhan responded, I definitely do.
Patlazhan is a professional chef who also hosts underground supper clubs. He cooks with blow torches, nitrogen and even a vacuum machine to create unusual meals.
Thats the things with supper clubs, theyre in a sense illegal just because they are underground no one knows about them. So if the Health Department did come they would obviously shut it down. So theres always a little bit of worry, Patlazhan said.
To stay under the radar, Patlazhan changes the location every time and keeps the guest list exclusive through a members-only website.
Its definitely kind of a secret and I think thats the interesting part about it. And a lot of it is word of mouth, Patlazhan said.
But some critics have concerns about these unregulated dinner parties.
It definitely falls into a gray area, said Leon Lubarsky, owner of Letter Grade Consulting.
Lubarskys staff of retired New York City health inspectors advises restaurants on health regulations.
When asked if the underground restaurants should be regulated, Lubarsky told Leitner, Yes, they should be regulated by the same system that regulates every restaurant in New York City.
The Health Department refused to discuss the issue on camera but in a statement told CBS 2: In New York City, people who offer meals to the public for money are considered food service establishments and need permits. The city does not allow meals to be served to members of the public in someones home.
So, Leitner went back to ask Shafi about the dinner parties.
Leitner: You guys are breaking the law by serving people meals and charging.
Shafi: Yeah. The reality is they are here and people really love them.
In the meantime, foodies like Shafi and professional chefs like Patlazhan continue to host these covert supper clubs.
I want to do it as much as possible so my goal would be to do it two to three times a week, so kind of like a restaurant on the weekends, Patlazhan said.
But if caught hosting an underground dinner party, the hosts could be fined $2,000 and ordered to shut down.
The price to get into one of these underground supper clubs ranges from $40 to several hundred. Some of the hosts say they are in it simply for the love of food, while others hope to turn a profit.
I bet they even allow salt shakers on the table!
Well... seems to me that if they offered the meals for free to one another that would remove the shadow. God blesses reciprocity, y’know... that’s heaven’s dance.
someone should make a bumper sticker : “Capitalism is not a crime”
Try to imagine this story as recently as 1985. We are the boiling frog.
“SWAT, party of 8, SWAT, your table is ready...”
And it isn’t.
This is kind of a weird quasi-restauranteurism. I’d bet... all they need to do to get the government to stop trying to regulate this is to make it officially into privately hosted dinner parties. Whoever is hosting offers the food gratis to the guests, who can be as restricted a list as they wish (i.e. people who promise to reciprocate). Do it at some neutral site like a banquet hall if using the restaurant itself incurs difficulties. There’s always some way around this.
Is this like a liberty taxi?
“they are completely unregulated”
There’s the communist rub: It ain’t “regulated”, meaning taxed. We can choose to go to homes for dinner but not if money is involved. Uncle Stupid wants his cut.
... so if they do it for free ... nothing to tax.
I’m guessing an unregistered Fondue set is a no go.
SWAT, party of 8, SWAT, your table is ready...
Go to any neighborhood with a large number of illegals, and you will find homes with restaurants, rental rooms, convenience stores, and everything else. No big stories about that.
NY is just upset it isn’t getting its cut from the rich guys running this.
I throw “Unregulated” Dinner Parties every year, at Thanksgiving.
"Hey Bloomberg. You telling me we can't have a potluck!?"
Statists everywhere squeal in disapproval of the behavior of consenting free citizens.
He’s more concerned about the number of beverages served over 16oz.!
Do they allow smoking and serve super large soft drinks?
NYC could disappear in a mushroom cloud any time now, and the country would be better off
Same goes for Chicago
Wait, I thought Lawrence v. Texas established the right of consenting adults to do whatever they please in the privacy of their own homes.
I can see “pot luck” dinners next on the regulatory committee.
Tupperware, Amway, Mary Kay - they’re coming for you next!
They did. It was called "The Freshman".
I wish she’d investigate Benghazi or something more worthwhile. Their aim is to keep people thinking they can’t do anything without their big government approval.
As terrifying as a meal at home.
Like individual liberty?
Give me a call first, OK?
Not if it’s for money!
Sounds like prostitution. Ok to give it away, but if you rent it out, you go to jail.
And the servers are not even being paid minimum wage, nor are they reporting the income from serving meals on their income taxes!
And the busboys are forced to clean up the tables and take out the garbage, or they might not get their next meal, or get their next pay suspended, or even be denied use of their phones and computers.
Can you imagine the lawlessness of this?
Don't panic. At least this is being reported. And who knows. Some day they might report on our $17 trillion deficit.
Back in college, it was the same thing for me going to “unregulated” poker clubs. Same thing, cops bust one op, another pops up by word of mouth.
My God, I read halfway through this thinking it was satire.
Yeah. I’m sure they claim it isn’t about the taxes, but food safety. You know, that their inspectors help ensure you don’t get food poisoning. Funny how that still happens. Me, I’d trust someone who loves food and cooking to prepare my meal more than a kitchen full of illegals and bored teens working for beer money.
Yes, they do. These are the same fools who also worry about how large your soda can be or how many rounds will fit into your gun clip.
You know: totalitarians...
I was disappointed too. Dinner parties. Feh. Thought this was going to be acknowledgement of some ‘Eyes WIde Shut’ medieval pagan sexual rites going on.
Very true. As we all know, food can only be safely prepared in a regulated comercial kitchen. If it wasn't for Republicans, all homes would be required to have a stainless steel commercial quality kitchen. Random inspections would then allow us to keep our children safe. Only Republicans want our children to die. /s
What is so daring about "medieval pagan sexual rites?" This is the 21st century swinging is the norm and our kids have sexual sleepovers, under the watchful approving eye of their parents, of course.