Tasting Collective, which founder and CEO Nat Gelb describes as “the country’s largest private dining membership community,” is launching its 17th chapter in Dallas, following chapters in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, the Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington DC. Big D has been “on our roadmap for a while,” Gelb tells Eater Dallas, but the pandemic caused delays. “We know there are a lot of people in Dallas who are obsessed with restaurants, which is exactly who our members are,” Gelb says.
The first dinner in Dallas will be on September 20 at Rye on Lower Greenville in collaboration with chef and owner Taylor Rause. In October, it will partner with relative newcomer Saaya and chef Rodman Shields, while November will take it up to Frisco for a night at La Parisienne French Bistro with chef Laurent Gougneau. Gelb says working with innovative, forward-thinking restaurants excited about doing something out of the box is precisely what Tasting Collective was searching for. He adds that working with relatively new restaurants (Saaya and La Parisienne opened this year) is also important because Tasting Club cultivates members who like to keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s new in their city.
Members can expect restaurants all over the DFW area to participate. “Some of our members join for the adventure aspect,” Gelb says. “We give them a reason to go to a new neighborhood and try a restaurant they never would otherwise.”
Gelb describes a dinner with this private membership as “a show.” After doors open, diners file to their assigned seats for an evening of communal dining and encouraging conversation. “Where our expertise comes in is how to make that social experience fun and enjoyable for everyone, rather than awkward,” Gelb says.
As the meal begins, the chef talks about what they’ve prepared and their vision for the dinner, repeating that with each of the five courses over the night. The chef stays for a question and answer session with the group during dessert. Diners are encouraged to write down their thoughts on the food, which is shared with the restaurant. Chefs are encouraged to try out new ideas with these menus to test new dishes they’re working on or considering adding to a regular dining menu.
The standard rate for membership is $165 per person, but the first 500 members to join in Dallas will get a deal of $99 (head to its website and select “get a membership invitation” to join). There is an additional cost of $65 to attend each private meal, which covers the cost of the five-course tasting menu for the night.
And how many events Tasting Collective will hold in any given month in the future depends on how many interested folks are out there. It’s prepared to grow as needed.
Update: Tuesday, September 5, 2023: 10:44 a.m.: This article was updated to reflect a corrected price per meal.