MS. REBECCA SHEIR
We end today's show at the dinner table with the story of a startup that's trying to change our relationship with food and our neighbors. Feastly is a D.C. based online market place that connects eaters with passionate cooks. Here's how it works, you go online, search through upcoming meals, read about the cooks preparing the meals and then you pay a fixed amount for the meal you choose. When chow time comes around, you head to the cook's home to meet the other feasters and you all get down to dining. Emily Friedman ventured to a Columbia Heights row house to find out what this experience is all about and also what's for dinner.
MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN
A cab drops me off outside my first Feastly dinner and to be honest, it feels a lot like going on a blind date. I don't know who I'm about to meet. I don't know what the conversation's going to be like, but it's kind of exciting.
MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN
Andrew, it's good to meet you.
Emily, I'm Patrick.
There are about 10 people standing around a table chatting and drinking out of champagne flutes. It's a Prosecco Ginger cocktail, I'm told, and as I take one, I notice that there's a menu at each place setting. There's six courses and little drawings of each dish.
MR. NOAH KARESH
I never know what people are going to do in, like, terms of their meal, like, printing out menus. Like, the excitement around it is fantastic.
Noah Karesh is one of the founders of Feastly. He came up with the idea while traveling in Guatemala wishing he could sit down to authentic Guatemalan meal while all around the restaurants offered bland pizza, pasta and other typical tourist fare. Not only can you get more interesting food in someone's home, Karesh says, but it's also an opportunity to meet new people.
I think a lot of times at a restaurant you're also kind of secluded in your little table. What we're trying to do is kind of expand that and, you know, offer a different opportunity. Something in someone's home, I mean, there is something very intimate about that.
MS. ANNA MAKANJU
I think at this point I'm just putting finishing touches on most things.
Anna Makanju was a preparing a sauce for the main course, monk fish and simultaneously melting white chocolate for our dessert. Though she works for the Department of Defense, she says cooking is a huge part of her life.
I really love it. It's the one thing that makes me relax and not over think everything.
We sit down to eat the first course, sliced scallops poached in a chive broth. The cook steps in to see how it's being received.
How's it going so far?
Awesome. The broth was insane.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ONE
It was, like, mysterious and delicious at the same time.
As Makanju takes our order for the next course, crab pudding or a lobster avocado Napoleon, it's clear this is no ordinary dinner. Clarence Wardell (sp?) , one feaster, points out it's also no ordinary group of people.
MR. CLARENCE WARDELL
But is a question, like, what type of person comes into a dinner, like, is willing to pay to come to a dinner with people that they have never met.
Deana Rosen (sp?) agrees and says after three years living in the city, this is a nice change of pace.
MS. DEANA ROSEN
I find the restaurants scene in D.C. to be a little lacking and I find that dinners with my friends cooking is better than restaurants in D.C. I think it's something that D.C. is going to love.
This idea is not totally new. Underground supper clubs and websites such as grubwithus.com organize similar dinners in restaurants and pop-up spaces. But according to Danny Harris, the other half of the Feastly team, this is the first site designed to bring people into one another kitchens.
MR. DANNY HARRIS
We've found ways of monetizing our bedrooms through our B&B which allows people to turn their homes into hotels or, you know, increasingly, we're working out of our home and we see the kitchen as the next base.
D.C. is Feastly's first city, but the plan is for it to be available everywhere. Not only is there money to be made for chefs and amateur cooks, Harris says, but it also changes the relationship between us and our food.
I've spent too many meals sitting at home by myself watching Hulu on my computer while eating cereal for dinner and that's just not a way to live.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE TWO
My god, it's like key lime pie, delicious...
For dessert, we're presented with a citrus salad, lime custard and a dollop of white chocolate whipped cream.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE ONE
It was so good.
And not in a polite way.
It hits me then that there is a downside to eating incredible food in a stranger's home. In your own house you get to lick your plate. Here too awkward. After everyone's left, Anna Makanju and her roommates eat leftovers out of the pan and finish up the dishes. It took all day and she has to get up early for work, but she says it was totally worth it.
I loved it so much. I would much rather spend my day doing this than anything else.
She says she can't wait to host another meal and at least, according to those sitting around me at the table, this might be one of the best non-restaurant restaurants in town. I'm Emily Friedman.
To see photos from that four course meal Emily attended or to find out about Feastly dinners in your neighborhood, head to our website, metroconnection.org.
And that's "Metro's Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Sabri Ben-Achour, Emily Friedman, Kavitha Cardoza and Jessica Gould. Jim Asendio is our news director. Our managing producer is Tara Boyle. Lauren Landau is our editorial assistant and Alexander Patlis (sp?) is our intern. Jonna McKone, Lauren Landau, Heather Taylor and Alexander Patlis produce "Door To Door." Thanks, as always, to the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.
Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts,'' and our ''Door To Door'' theme "No Girl" are from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. You can see all the music we use on our website, metroconnection.org. Just click on an individual story and you'll find information about its accompanying song. Also on metroconnection.org, you can find our Twitter and Facebook links. You can read free transcripts of stories and if you've missed part of today's show or just want to listen to any recent shows, you can click the podcast link up at the top of the page. You also can subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes.
We hope you'll join us next week when we'll celebrate the oddity of leap year and search for some rarities. We'll visit an old fashioned pharmacy celebrating its 100th anniversary and meet a man with a particularly distinctive job, barber to the U.S. House of Representatives. Plus, what's it like to be one of the last living speakers of a language.
If they decided they want to know about their Scotch history, they can go to Scotland. If they want to know about their German history, they can go to Germany. If we don't keep Miami culture and Myaamia as a language alive, where will they be able to go?
I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 news.
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