The Underground Kitchen to Stop in Wilmington on its 'New Americana' Tour

The Richmond, Va.-based experiential dinner series will take place Aug. 10 at an undisclosed location in the city.


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Photo courtesy of Micheal Sparks

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If you’re looking for a food meets community event like none other in Delaware, The Underground Kitchen is aiming to bring it to Wilmington this weekend.

On Aug. 10, the experiential kitchen is making a stop in the city during its “The New Americana” tour. The dinner in Wilmington is one of 32 tour stops, which challenge chefs “to represent themselves and their stories in the plates that they present. A journey through the America of individual experiences and expression, creating the New Americana,” according to the website.

“We’re really excited about coming [to Wilmington],” said Micheal Sparks, the organization's founder and CEO.

The Underground Kitchen is an experiential dinner series that travels to cities throughout the Mid-Atlantic. The one-night-only event, held at an undisclosed location that is shared with guests only 48 hours before, features up-and-coming chefs and creative, multi-course dinners with wine pairings.

The six to eight course menu is also a surprise to guests, who can disclose food allergies and if they follow a plant-based or pescetarian diet, Sparks said. Every dish is paired with wine or beer.

“It’s quite a curated experience,” he said.

The Underground Kitchen Pop-Up Dinner Comes to Wilmington

Photo courtesy of Micheal Sparks

Sparks said The Underground Kitchen included Wilmington on its tour list because they were impressed with the city on previous visits. He said the city reminded him of Richmond, Virginia, where the organization is based. The hope is for The Underground Kitchen to continue visiting Wilmington every quarter, he said.

The featured chef for the Wilmington dinner is Danielle Harris of Washington, D.C.

Harris has previously worked under Stephanie Izard, a Food Network "Iron Chef" and Bravo "Top Chef" winner. Her current clients include No Reservations, a private dining service; Movelo Cafe, Washington D.C.’s first full-service mobile cafe; and District Graze, a grazing company.

Sparks said The Underground Kitchen started shortly after he and his partner moved to Virginia. Looking to make friends and connections within their community, they began throwing dinner parties in their home to get people together and make conversation.

The Underground Kitchen Table Setting

Photo courtesy of Micheal Sparks

Now, The Underground Kitchen has progressed to a five star dining experience, Sparks said. The event aims to give top emerging chefs, especially people of color and women, the chance to be a head chef. “Our mission is to expose them,” Sparks said.

Harris began working with The Underground Kitchen in March, and has already done several dinners with the organization. “It’s been a total world-wind experience,” she said.

She said the experience has opened many doors, allowing her to collaborate with Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton, Virginia, and beginning to book wedding clients. She’s also blown away that at only 26 years old, she had the opportunity to be a part of The Underground Kitchen’s James Beard Foundation dinner.

While Harris can’t disclose what she’ll be making at the Aug. 10 dinner in Wilmington, she calls her cooking style globally-inspired, new American. Every dinner she’s done for Underground Kitchen events have been different, she said, ranging from a tour around the globe, a Spanish-themed menu and an American spring menu.

Sparks said the only thing he could say about the dinner was that a wine expert from Bordeaux, France would be bringing wines from the region to enjoy with the dishes.

Since Italian food is what got Harris into cooking as a child, Harris said she might create a menu that tours guests around her journey into the food industry. “I’m excited,” she said.


More information:
The Underground Kitchen comes to an undisclosed location in Wilmington on Aug. 10 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tickets are $150 per person, and can be purchased at theundergroundkitchen.org/tickets.

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