Would you book and pay in advance for dinner, without knowing where and what you’d be eating? That’s just what I did when I booked seats, on the 9th of July, for the The Boss and myself for last night’s Hidden Kitchen dinner. In theory, we could have been eating anywhere in Mallorca – an island of roughly the same area as Hampshire in the UK.
If doing this sounds unusual – and perhaps a little risky – there were two reasons I knew this would become one of the memorable dining-out experiences of 2019. One: chef David Moreno – from the restaurant at the 5-star Can Simoneta hotel in the northeast resort of Canyamel – would be preparing the dinner with his team.
Two: this was a Hidden Kitchen event, organized by the Balearic gastronomic promoters, Chefs(in). These are popular dinners, for a limited number of diners. Places sell out quickly and I’d attempted to buy tickets for previous events without success. When the news of last night’s Hidden Kitchen popped up in my email inbox back in the summer, I got straight on the case and booked without delay.
What is a Hidden Kitchen dinner?
It’s a one-off dinner for 20 people, prepared by one of Mallorca’s best chefs, and served in a special location that is never a restaurant. More than 30 Hidden Kitchen dinners have taken place, with venues including a cave, museums, an artist’s studio, and even the pitch of Real Mallorca’s Son Moix football stadium!
Locations are never repeated. I couldn’t wait to find out where we would be dining – but we’d have to be patient, because we wouldn’t know until we arrived at the venue. How tantalizing is that?
We also had no idea what we would be on the menu, but having eaten Mexican chef David Moreno’s cuisine at the restaurant where he worked previously, we knew we’d love the unique dishes he’d be creating. We did know that we would share a table with the other diners. Who would they be? This is all part of the fun of a Hidden Kitchen dinner.
Clues began to arrive
Each day, from Tuesday this week until yesterday, Chefs(in) sent us an email (in both Spanish and English) containing a clue about the event. This helped to build the suspense and by the time the third clue arrived, I had an inkling that I knew where the event would take place. I was wrong.
On the day of Hidden Kitchen
Our instructions took us to the designated meeting point on the outskirts of Palma de Mallorca, where participants would park their cars and board the luxurious Transfer Class minibus that would whisk us to the venue. We were the first to arrive and soon met friendly Mallorcan couple Nelly and Gregorio, who’d been gifted their Hidden Kitchen places by (generous) friends.
When everyone had arrived, Araceli Bosch from Chefs(in) welcomed us in Spanish and English, explaining a little of what would be happening. She would travel in her own car to the venue and we’d be on the minibus.
“Do not ask the driver where you are going,” she said, smiling. “He will not tell you!”
The level of chatter on the bus rose as we set off. One of the clues had been that we had to be at least eighteen years old to go to the venue; a visiting American man, who sat across the bus from us, mused that it could be a strip club! Er, no. Chefs(in) is a class outfit.
Because I was in a window seat, I could see where we were going and, a few minutes before we arrived, I thought I knew the location – because I’d visited fairly recently to record a radio interview with the business’s British owner, Byron Holland. I don’t think anyone other than us had any idea what was beyond the doors of the place where the minibus stopped.
Three ‘volunteers’ from the bus were tasked with knocking on the door of the premises. This was the signal for the large garage-style door to be raised and our Hidden Kitchen location revealed. Araceli (who’d arrived by a more direct route), Byron and his wife Elena (who both joined us for dinner), chef David Moreno, his sous chef Edgar Rodríguez, and other members of their team stood waiting to greet us.
After brief introductions by Araceli and Byron, we chose our seats at the beautifully prepared table. We were a mixed group of Mallorcan, Scandinavian, American, and British diners – some resident like us, some on holiday here. After introductions, animated conversations began immediately.
A printed copy of the menu was at each table setting, along with a surprise gift: a bottle of the award-winning Palma Gin, produced by Mallorca Distillery. The above are just some of the dishes we enjoyed.
We ate a succession of delicious dishes – many with Mexican culinary touches. Drinks were included and we started the evening with a glass of delicious organic rosado cava. Wines, a glass of sake, and a sherry were matched to the dishes by Lloseta-based wine distributors Vinamica. After a speciality coffee by Palma roasters Arabay Coffee, the evening ended with a delicious Palma Gin and tonic.
This Hidden Kitchen dinner is one we’ll remember for a long time. The cuisine, drinks, setting, and company added up to a most convivial evening. I can highly recommend a Hidden Kitchen dinner if you are open to the idea of surprises, sharing a table with friends you haven’t yet met, and have a sense of fun and curiosity.
If you’d like to find out more about Chefs(in) and their Hidden Kitchen dinners, check out their website.
Maybe we’ll meet you dining at a future Hidden Kitchen?
Jan Edwards ©2019