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Pop-Up Restaurant Gives Chefs a Place to Unleash Their Inner Artist

By Kaveri Sengupta | March 20, 2014 2:11pm
 Housed inside The Usual Restaurant, pop-up restaurant the Dewdrop Inn features a rotating band of chefs who tackle a new menu with each event.
Dewdrop Inn
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PROSPECT HEIGHTS — This restaurant is anything but the usual.

A pop-up restaurant that features a rotating band of chefs is expanding the menu inside The Usual Restaurant at 637 Vanderbilt Ave.

The Dewdrop Inn, a project founded by Sean Meade and Asha Rhodes-Meade, brings together some of the city's hottest chefs for a special meal that lets them express themselves, organizers said. The restaurant was first reported by Edible Brooklyn.

Meade and Rhodes-Meade say they wanted to provide professional chefs with an opportunity to cook as “artistic expression.”

“The vast majority of chefs in restaurants don’t have the opportunity to cook their own experiences,” Rhodes-Meade said. “We want them to approach cooking as an art form.”

For example, on April 4, Michael Haigh, an ex-sous chef at The Vanderbilt, will serve a five-course, all-pork menu that could include bacon ice cream, organizers said. Haigh plans to use every part of the pig, including the ears, loin and belly, and will buy all the ingredients from Trace and Trust, a sustainable farm system in Rhode Island, Meade said.

Their most recent event, held March 14, highlighted chef Brian Fiasconaro and was the first five-course meal to appear at Dew Drop Inn. Fiasconaro is a forager, and all the aromatic items on the menu were foraged in Long Island, Meade said.

The menu began with carrot and avocado salad, followed by salmon and beet sausage with sumac and lemon thyme, which Meade added he had been skeptical about inititally. The main course was ricotta gnocchi with mushroom broth and pork loin brewed in hard apple cider, followed with a dessert of strawberry shortcake.

“The gnocchi was a huge hit,” Rhodes-Meade said.  “People were drinking the broth after they finished the gnocchi.”

In addition, the couple has been paying for all of the ingredients and supplies, and said the event drew enough interest to keep from paying out of pocket.

“It was only our third event, and we didn’t lose money,” Rhodes-Meade said. “We want to keep it at $50 to $60 per person for five courses. So $200 to $250 for the chef is fine. It’s also fine if they go over.”

Meade and his friend chef John Conlin, who cooked the second meal at the restaurant, have talked for the past seven years about opening a restaurant. But when Meade, who has been friends with the restaurant's owner for more than a decade, mentioned hosting events inside The Usual, the venue was happy to offer them a home, he said.

“We’re trying to get better at explaining everything — what they’re getting, where it came from,” Rhodes-Meade said. “We want them to know more about the food. And we want to develop a following for the chef.”