JaynesBeard Supper Club is a social and culinary marriage of interests for queer women in New York which provides accessible and elevated culinary events on a frequent basis. I sat down with co-founders Sabrina and Alana to learn more about their journey.
In chatting previously with them, I learned how JaynesBeard was born out of a mutual love for food experiences. After going to a tasting menu together (which can often run you $300), both women agreed that the community could benefit from events that packed the same punch as a tasting menu experience (food-wise) but with a fun, social element- all derived from a queer female lense.
OUT: Would you tell me how you both met and how the the topic of food, and the shared love of food, came up?
Alana: It was a bit by accident!
Sabrina: We are both in the same professional networking circles and played in the same gay sports league- so we kept running into each other for a little over a year as acquaintances. One day after the soccer game, I must've just been pondering out loud and said, "You know what's kind of annoying? You can't ask someone who is not your girlfriend or partner to go to a three hour tasting menu with you!" and immediately Alana said, "Oh- I will absolutely do that with you."
Sabrina: [To Alana] We were sorting of shooting the shit after a game and your ears perked up!
How long from that initial conversation spark did it take for the first JaynesBeard event to come to fruition?
A: I feel like that first conversation was in April? It was spring/summer soccer season.
S: Yeah, maybe it was around April or May?
A: April/May-ish time frame.
S: Then our first event was sort of a test run. It was on August 30th, 2016.
Wow, that is a quick turn around!
S: [laughs] It is?!
A: I mean, the first event was ticketed! It wasn't a test run in the sense that we were going to just invite friends over to our place for to enjoy a meal together. We actually picked out specific people who we thought would give us a holistic view of whatever we were trying to do, and we charged money for the tickets.
And you've mentioned before that you like to "nerd out" over food and culinary experiences. What does this look like for you, and has food always been such a big part of your life?
S: Well for me, growing up, food was definitely a way of showing love. We had a lot of home cooked meals- and I didn't realize how special that was until I went away to college. It was a big part of our family! Once I was working and could afford to eat out, I discovered so many different cuisines outside of Chinese and Malaysian food. My interest in learning how to cook food for myself also added to that curiosity surrounding food.
A: I've probably been watching cooking shows since I was a kid. I learned to cook my first egg when I was 5 or 6. I love cooking for my family, but we weren't fancy or extravagant when it came to dining out. I didn't actually get into food until I traveled abroad to Spain and realized how fresh everything was. That made a huge impact on me. And ever since, my curious for food has only grown.
If you were to describe a JaynesBeard dinner in three words that describe the experience -- what would they be?
S: [laughs] We need to play around with how to answer this! The words that immediately come to mind are authentic connection.
A: I would say intimate, too. Authentic, intimate and...
A: Oh, and curious, too! Curious about the food, the chef, the space...I mean guests don't know where they're even going, because the address is only released 48 hours before the event. There's a sense of mystery.
It sounds like authenticity, intimacy, and curiosity are major pillars of these events! And I am curious, do you find that people come to your events solo, or with a friend or partner -- or even in large groups?
S: It's about half and half. Typically about half of our guest come by themselves. We love that they feel brave enough to sign up and check it out on their own- because they should feel comfortable doing that!
What has been your favorite menu at a JaynesBeard event or a favorite specific thing you have consumed?
A: That is SO Hard!
S: It really is, we are so lucky that all these chefs are so talented.
A: Kristen Kish's event was amazing. One of the things she made was this short rib dish with mascarpone mashed potatoes. And he beets form Kelly's events were amazing! I do not like beets at all, but this beet soup with creme fraiche on top made me LOVE beets!
S: One chef had this arctic char that was to die for...it was so tender and so good, with a sauce that perfectly complemented it. And one time we had this shrimp, which sounds so simple, but it was the most tender shrimp- so tender you didn't have to peel the skin off you could just eat. No peeling involved!
A: It's hard, each chef gets to create a menu that they are the most excited about. There is no pressure to include things because they "have to" make but instead it is all things they want to make.
That's a good point -- food is so personal, so emotional. So I'd love to know about your "dream" dinner party. In an ideal world, who would be at your dinner table, dead or alive? Chefs, celebrities, historical figures are all fair game!
S: I mean, we were able to answer that question so quickly before because it was Kristen Kish. But then we actually had a dinner with Kristen Kish!
That is truly incredible, wow. Being from Boston, she is my hometown hero!
A: Another scenario that immediately comes to mind is having a dinner with Rachel Maddow, Kate McKinnon, and Angela Dimayuga.
That sounds like my Gay Culinary Mecca! And how can women who are interested in JaynesBeard grab a ticket to your next event?
S: If you go to our website, there's a link to submit your name for an invitation to the next event.
Does every person who signs up get an invitation?
A: We believe that if you want to go, you should be able to go. You don't have to be a "superfan" of food to attend, either. If you think of a scale between 1 and 10 where being a 1 means you're just there for the social aspect and 10 means you're just there for the food experience, I would say our guests are usually between a 4-9.
S: It's more than just a party but it's not strictly just a culinary experience.
A: The great thing is that, at these events, people who identify as a 4 on this spectrum turn into 5s really quickly- which is our goal!