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The Full Moon Supper Club Turns Two

Two years ago, chef Torrence O'Haire, The Starving Artist, started an underground meal experience called The Full Moon Supper Club. Rapid Growth first covered this monthly event in June 2011. Everyone sat in a grassy backyard on pillows and enjoyed a fine Moroccan feast on a warm evening. 

Since then, O'Haire has secured a spot in the Avenue of the Arts on S. Division in the downtown Heartside Neighborhood. When O'Haire invited us to return for the two-year anniversary of what is now perhaps the longest-running underground supper club in Michigan, it's a retrospective affair and a much different scene. 

In a crowded kitchen on a brisk night, a group of people gather around a wooden table, set with the guests' own plates and flatware, to enjoy the much heartier food of Montreal. O'Haire tells us about the poutine and his homebrews, explaining each item on the table. But before dessert, he pauses to lead into a toast and to tell his guests the history of the event.

Evolving from a dinner party one fateful Sunday, they repeated the event the next month at Bar Divani on a larger scale. The "Christmas in Scandinavia" event featured chilled bottles of Aquavit and many toasts, followed by dinner guests reading passages or poetry about winter. "A group of 38 strangers was there until probably about three in the morning," O'Haire recalls.

And so, for two years now, the group has not missed a single month. The cast of characters is always different. "It has become a community experience," O'Haire says. "Every single dinner, almost half of the guests are reasonably new in some way, and so it's this constantly changing and evolving dinner table -- always new stories to tell and new food to try."

O'Haire says that there is a growing awareness around the group. Sometimes, if buying a "seemingly inordinate amount of liquor," he is asked about his weekend plans. When he tells them about the Full Moon Supper Club, they've often already heard of it. 

"We've become something that comes up as part of the popular underground for people looking for something to do," O'Haire says. He mentions two good friends he met when they attended a Supper Club the weekend they moved to Grand Rapids. 

O'Haire is in the process of writing a cookbook that includes recipes and photos from each dinner, and is hoping to finish the book in time for Christmas presents. 

The next Full Moon Supper Club is Sunday, Dec. 9. The theme is "Christmas in Austria," featuring, according to the event page, "Cakes, cookies, and candies galore, fried meats, runny cheeses, and a lovely array of wines from the Alps and big bottles of German brandy!" A $40 ticket includes the meal as well as drinks. 

O'Haire also runs a Cooking Boot Camp out of his space, where guests get dinner, drinks, and schooled on various themes. On Dec. 12, O'Haire will teach attendees how to make a fruit cake -- a good one. You can also visit The Starving Artist during the Avenue for the Arts' Urban Lights: Holiday Market this weekend. There will be a pop-up cafe and lots of gift options for the foodie on your list. 

J. Bennett Rylah is the Managing Editor of Rapid Growth Media. 

Photographs by Adam Bird
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