Here in Bushwick, we don’t lack delicious food. There are always new places popping up. And when it comes to intimate, off-the-beaten path dining, we have something so niche and elegant, your friend who works for “Bon Appétit” will be jealous: the Bushwick Supper Club. Self-taught chef Shon Shalit has been cooking up evenings to remember in his humble abode since last summer.
But I have to correct myself. Chef Shon Shalit is not entirely self-taught. He would balk at that descriptor because he learned nearly everything he knows about cooking from one important chef: his mother.
“The only chef I’ve ever worked with is my mom. She taught me a lot. She taught me almost everything I know so she’s a big shot in my book,” he said.
Inspired by his mother’s cooking and her dream of one day opening a restaurant, Shalit began the supper club. He found two nice tables on Craigslist for a bargain, took it as a sign, and never looked back. His first supper club was made up of a modest group of eight friends, and now he tends to cap off his evenings at ten guests per meal.
Shalit knew when he started attracting strangers, it could be a sustainable endeavour. He was drawing guests from Instagram and Eat With, a site that connects foodies to communal tables.
“I tried to get people that I didn’t know. I always had, like, one or two friends coming, but when I had random [people] is when I knew I could actually do something,” he added.
Shalit has now begun hosting his dinners after-hours at Chez Alex Bakery near the Bushwick and Bed-Stuy border on 72 Ralph Ave. “I’m pretty friendly with the lady who runs [the bakery] and she wanted to just demo me at that spot, so she invited ten of her good customers to come by,” Shalit said.
Shalit said he enjoyed the opportunity to cook for an entire group of strangers. “It’s kind of like a performance,” he said.
As for his menu, Shalit prefers to go minimalist, and gleans much of his inspiration from Mediterranean and Latin foods.
For his starter, Shalit always makes a loaf of sourdough, entirely from scratch, with homemade pickles and a beer. His last pairing was a red wine and mint pickle, accompanied by PH3 Blood Orange Sour beer from Transmitter Brewery in Queens.
Last week’s main course was something Shalit is “super, super, super proud of.” Shalit prepared a duck breast sous-vide, with garlic, basil, and olive oil, which he then seared on a cast-iron skillet until crispy. He topped it off with homemade chorizo butter.
In the future, Shalit plans to continue hosting his supper club at Chez Alex instead of in his living room. The after-hours ambience allows his guests to feel like they are meeting in a sort of supper-club speakeasy. Shalit said he likes his dinners to have a secretive vibe.
Ready to indulge? The next supper club will be in June, and prices usually hover around $60 for four courses and four drink pairings. Keep an eye on Bushwick Supper Club’s Instagram page for details as they become available.
All images courtesy of Shon Shalit.