Test Kitchen KC: The Secret Dining Society

 

The Test Kitchen KC is a twice monthly secret supper club designed to share the extraordinary culinary talent in our city. Food Editor Grace Pritchett reports back from a coveted seat at the Test Kitchen table with dinner from Chef Joe Avila.

 
All photos by Grace Pritchett

All photos by Grace Pritchett

 

Despite the title, you won’t find any masks or capes at the Test Kitchen dinners. Instead, you’ll find unrepeatable menus, passionate chefs, and curious attendees (disciples of the Test Kitchen) who really really love food. Test Kitchen KC has operated for the past twelve years with Jenny Vergara (you know Jenny Vergara) as the host. The events follow a few simple guidelines with a different chef, menu, and location for each dinner, making every dish one that may never be tasted again.

 
Welcome Cocktail: xoconostle paloma with sour prickly pear agave, grapefruit seltzer, tequila blanco

Welcome Cocktail: xoconostle paloma with sour prickly pear agave, grapefruit seltzer, tequila blanco

Cocktail Hour Appetizer: vanilla melon wrapped in country ham and topped with espellete pintxo

Cocktail Hour Appetizer: vanilla melon wrapped in country ham and topped with espellete pintxo

 

I was lucky enough to attend the most recent Test Kitchen event at the Made in Kansas City Creative Studios where a small group of us dined from the “Sol Brillante” menu created and prepared by Joe Avila (sous chef at Rye Leawood).

 
Tomato Salad made with squid ink sourdough, el trigal manchego, aged garlic chile honey. Paired with rosé beer.

Tomato Salad made with squid ink sourdough, el trigal manchego, aged garlic chile honey. Paired with rosé beer.

 

The beauty of The Test Kitchen (in my hungry opinion) is that it gives chefs a space to create without the normal confines of serving restaurant clientele. No substitutions, no eliminations, no parameters to make sure every food allergy is covered. Chefs spend so much of their career catering to every taste that they deserve a space to play around and demonstrate what they can do, including blow your mind with some squid ink sourdough bread. Vergara has worked to create this respectful playground for chefs, telling diners up front that their picky eating habits will not be allowed.

 
Ahi Tuna Ceviche made with fresh turmeric lime aguachile, avocado espuma, blood orange mojo, sumac tostada, beet oil

Ahi Tuna Ceviche made with fresh turmeric lime aguachile, avocado espuma, blood orange mojo, sumac tostada, beet oil

Paired with Boulevard Tropical Pale Ale

Paired with Boulevard Tropical Pale Ale

 

While I cannot speak for every Test Kitchen dinner, I can say from my experience that the dinners will open you up to new food, new drink, and new people in Kansas City. I now know a man who grew up with a Thai prince. I have nothing else to say about it; that’s just a fun fact that came from our evening as we enjoyed grilled octopus, homemade squash blossom tortillas, a family-style taco bar, and sweet corn ice cream.

 
Family-style Taco Bar with puerco pibil, Rancho Gordo garbanzos, arroz verde, xnipec, Yoli tortillas

Family-style Taco Bar with puerco pibil, Rancho Gordo garbanzos, arroz verde, xnipec, Yoli tortillas

 

If you’re looking at attend an infamous Test Kitchen dinner, you can apply online to be part of this secret society. Somewhere in Kansas City, Test Kitchen KC is going down and I hope to see you there.