Can anyone join?
For now, yes. Simply visit Tasting Collective's website and hit "request an invite." After that, you'll typically get a response the next day with your invitation to join.
How much does it cost?
Membership isn't cheap. The standard membership rate is $199/yr for access to dinner events (each dinner ticket is $40-50 dollars), plus other benefits. Though your money arguably goes pretty far...
What do you get out of it?
Tasting Collective's private dinners occur every other week, during which the entire restaurant is shut down, and members can enjoy a multi-course menu of the chef’s favorite dishes, plus food stories from the chefs themselves (who come out to introduce each dish). The largest dinner is around 50 people; the smallest is 25. For now, Tasting Collective is focused on smaller, independent restaurants (typically ones where the chef is a partner or an owner so they’re more involved in every aspect). Some current partners include Pig & Khao, noreetuh, Edi & the Wolf, Huertas, Xixa, Yunnan BBQ, Shalom Japan, Mile End, Miss Lily's, Traif, and Flinders Lane.
In addition to the bi-weekly dinners, members also get benefits from food-related brands (like artisanal purveyors and cooking classes), and if they show their cards (which are wooden, because of course) at any of Tasting Collective's partner restaurants, they can receive complimentary dishes or cocktails with their meal. Members can also buy tickets for non-member friends to dine with them.
So what does this all mean for the dining-out culture in New York?
Well, technically your dinners would not only be more informative than most, but also cheaper (considering the average menu prices at the restaurants involved). Yes, you're also paying the $199 yearly fee, but since most large-scale chef-led events cost that amount for a single ticket, it would seem that you're getting more than your money's worth.
Are members-only meals the future of dining out in New York? Probably not (especially since New York is crazy expensive, and most people can't afford to dine out frequently, if ever), but for those with the means, and a deep interest in food & drink culture, a thing like Tasting Collective opens a ton of doors into that world, bringing people with a shared interest in restaurants together in a totally unique way.
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