Dinner Lab knows how to party: Just ask Google, which has trusted the culinary creatives with their big events. This July, the pop-up supper club concept opened its membership to Clevelanders ($125 annually). The inaugural event featured chef Daniel Espinoza of Chicago, who cooked his Mexican-inspired menu from a temporary kitchen in 78th Street Studios. "It can [take] between 15 and 18 hours for the food prep," he says. "The day of the event, your day starts as early as 8 a.m." Here's a look at behind the scenes.
4:08 p.m. Espinoza hustles by, pushing a baker's cart wrapped in plastic. Soon a kitchen begins to emerge. "Danny, do you need any more electric?" someone calls.
5:50 p.m. The scent of cilantro, pork and spices waft from electric steam tables and pots warming over propane burners, overtaking the room's fresh-paint smell. The sounds of a Latinized "Strawberry Fields" meld with the aromas in the air.
7:24 p.m. "Sit wherever you want, drink as much as you can, stay until they kick us out," diners are told. Strangers become dining companions for the night, shaking hands and nestling into place along the farmhouse-style tables.
8:23 p.m. Milanesa de pollo, the third and arguably the best course of the evening, arrives. A crispy, golden sliver of breast meat balances on pale green cilantro grits topped by a silky orange carrot mole and sprinkled with pickled carrots and dill blossoms. A dozen or more flavors sing in harmony.
9:42 p.m. Guests slowly trickle out and head home. The staff speeds up, sweeping empty cups into trash bags and bagging dirty silverware.
12:20 p.m. The last tables are cleared, the U-Haul is packed once more, Dinner Lab drives off, restaurant in tow.