The dinner underground

Photos by Kathy Tran

Chef DAT has many accomplishments from his time as a chef: working under chef Tom Spicer, opening the Trinity Forest Golf Club and being named one of the Top Five chefs in Dallas. None of that has shaped his career more than being the man who brought underground dinners to Dallas. 

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Chef DAT — whose moniker is based on his initials —  is confident that he coined the term underground dinner. It’s more commonly known as a supper club. At least, that’s what it was called when he read about the concept in a 2009  The New York Times article about supper clubs and pop-up food trucks in New York and Los Angeles. No one thought something like that could work in Dallas, but Chef DAT proved them all wrong. 

Here’s how an underground dinner works: Chef DAT arranges an event at an undisclosed location and sends out email invitations to people on his list. There are only about 20 spots per dinner, so it’s a race to get seats once the emails go out. Usually, the dinners sell out in a couple of hours. 

Not to spoil the surprise, but most of Chef DAT’s dinners are held at Roots and Water, a private wine club in the Design District. Many Lake Highlands residents are members there, and Chef DAT loves getting to be friends with his neighbors (and sharing Ubers so they can drink more wine). It isn’t just people from the neighborhood that make it out to these dinners, however. 

“It’s really fun seeing the mix of people,” Chef DAT says. “These different personalities come together, and eventually they become friends, and it’s really cool.”

Attending one of Chef DAT’s dinners can mean rubbing elbows with Dallas’ rich and famous.

“You can think of a name in the city and yes,” he says. “I’ve cooked for most local athletes.” One time Dirk Nowitzski’s wife booked a dinner and had to cancel at the last minute because the Mavericks made the playoffs. Chef DAT says he’s also close friends with a very famous skateboarder (who he would not name but says he’s on TV a lot) who comes to dinners when he’s in town. 

It’s not just the celebrities that make the dinners memorable. Chef DAT has plenty of crazy stories of people doing trust falls off of bars and local musicians who turned the dinner into a pop-up concert. 

“What gets added with my brand is my personality,” he says. “I’m there, and I get to hang out with the people and have fun with everyone that’s at the event. I get up and talk about every single course — the farmer it came from, the story of why I started making this dish, why this dish is after the dish you just had. 

“There’s something about the balance of a course and how food should be eaten, and I tell people that process whenever they dine. I get to talk to them and tell them all the fun stuff about their food: the farmer’s name, how I met the farmer, how cool they are, all that jazz.”

Underground Dinners

Email: to get on his exclusive list.