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Posted: June 19, 2014

Chef Laura: An urban legend revealed

Dinner at the Silver Spork Social

Laura Cook Newman

A group of 25 people loiters around the magazine section of LoDo’s Tattered Cover. They secretly eye each other assessing the overall vibe and outfit choices – some men looking quite dapper in vests and fedoras, some women wearing bold necklaces and shabby chic get-ups.

With quiet fanfare – the group is gathered in a bookstore after all – a man arrives in a grey top hat carrying a large silver-painted wooden spork.  Checking in with his attractive assistant, the motley crew is led – silver spork in hand like a marching band’s baton – to an undisclosed destination a few blocks away.

I was about to experience my first underground supper club.

Silver Spork Social is the brainchild of Paul Laurie.  He’s a 30-something Denverite who has traveled the world and now hangs his top hat in a loft near Union Station.  All his travels have made him impossibly worldly and, dare I say…hip.

His day job as Director of Walking Tree Travel, takes globetrotting students on an adventure of their life.  But for just $90, Paul will take you on a culinary adventure for one night. 

Each month he hosts the clandestine Silver Spork Social in his industrial, yet warm condo.  Reservations book out at least a month in advance and you certainly have to “be in the know” to get on the list.  www.silversporksocial.com strategically does not have a link to Open Table.

An herb and gin cocktail prepared by The Populist bartender Chelsea Mahoney serves as a welcoming ice breaker, as live music accompanies the choreography in the kitchen. Diners find their seats at a long butcher-papered farm table in Paul’s living room.

Sitting on a hodgepodge of chairs and benches in cozy quarters amidst a hubbub of sautéing and cocktail-shaking activity, it’s easy to make friends with fellow diners.  I’m seated between an electrician and a kindergarten teacher.  But you get the feeling they’re a bit cooler than their job titles suggest.  It’s all our first time at a secret supper club.  The gin, the date (Friday the 13th), the full moon, and anticipation of things to come makes us a bit giddy.

As Paul chimes an antique bell to kick off the evening, the setting Colorado sun casts a comforting glow on the aqua Bell jars that serve as our water glasses.  Although his personality is probably bigger than his now-removed top hat, Paul doesn’t steal the spotlight.  Being a gracious host, he has a soothing manner telling us just what we need to know to feel at ease.  As not to give all the secrets of S³ away, he divulges that blindfolds are in tonight’s pipeline.

An amuse bouche of feta custard, compressed watermelon and pink peppercorn plated on a pedestalled silver dish puts the “art” in culinary arts.  The smooth and white creamy feta is a sharp contrast to the crisp, red slice of melon – both in color, taste and texture; just the way Chef Kat Gillette intended it. Like tonight’s mixologist, Kat also works at The Populist and is a graduate of my alma mater, Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. 

I strategically secure one of the four coveted bar stools by the kitchen to watch her in action; urgently but calmly sautéing dandelion greens, searing Diver scallops, and stirring smoked carrot puree for our other four courses yet to come.

The four-piece band simply known as “Elle Taylor & Friends” keep the Hepcat scene conspicuous throughout the night.  They sip on cans of Modelo (step aside PBR), never taking a break, creating one continuous jazzy soundtrack.

Despite the layer of secrecy and the “cool kids only” vibe, the entire night was thankfully unpretentious.  Three and a half hours later, I leave the loft feeling pleasantly full. Denver’s moonlit streets are eerily silent and vast, but somehow the city seems smaller—more connected.  Thank you, Silver Spork Social.

Photo credit: Jackie Paslay, jacquelyn lee photography

Laura Cook Newman is a professional Chef and Training Manager for a Fortune 500 food manufacturer. She earned her chops at Johnson & Wales University, has an MBA in Marketing and hosts a blog for behind-the-scenes insights on the food service industry. Contact her at www.ThreeHotsAndaCot.net

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

so for $90 you got a fancy drink, some cheese, a band, and sat with an electrician and a teacher. Sounds like a meal on United Airlines. What am I missing? By confused on 2014 06 20
Isn't it ironic that the bartender for the clandestine cabal of culinary elites plies her trade at "The Populist!" Why is it a Spork and not a Foon? Is there a Knoon or a Knork or a Spife? And what about Naomi? Very good piece. By PF on 2014 06 19
@TaTee - although I went solo, I'd say most people went as a twosome-friends or couples. Regardless, it was easy to mingle and mid-way through dinner we did a mandatory musical chairs to meet new people. @Tyler, cool idea about being blindfolded from the start. Could be some liability issues if we all sprained our ankles on Wynkoop smile By Chef Laura on 2014 06 19
The first rule of Silver Spork Social is you do not talk about Silver Spork Social. Cool article Chef Laura. Thought the group would've been blindfolded en route to Paul's condo, lest folks show up again for breakfast. By Tyler Durden on 2014 06 19
FUN! Was it all single people? Or a blend of couples as well??? Is tipping appropriate for an event like this? HMMMMMM.... By Ta Tee on 2014 06 19
And this is why Laura is one of the coolest girls I've ever met! Love the article, love the the pop up dinner experience and love Laura. You Go Girl! Show us the way to a much cooler life. By Deborah Marcotte on 2014 06 19
Loved this beautifully-written piece, Laura! The event sounds divine. By Terri Maize on 2014 06 19
Sounds like your Motley Cru had nothing but a good time. Sorry, I couldn't resist. By Nikki Sixx on 2014 06 19
You set a beautiful scene appealing to all five senses and more. What a great idea and event! By Ted on 2014 06 19
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