LA’s Hottest Immersive Dinner and a Show Experience Is Coming to NYC This Fall

The pop-up dinner series arrives in September, bringing the magic of the movies to life through creative food and cocktails.

Photo by Athena Alvarado and Alec Gondobintoro, courtesy of Fork n' Film
Photo by Athena Alvarado and Alec Gondobintoro, courtesy of Fork n' Film

There may be no single word with more cultural cache right now than the word “immersive,” an aspirational concept for every kind of experience from art galleries to live sports. Maybe it’s a post-pandemic, pre-apocalypse crisis of the collective soul, or maybe it’s an earnest attempt to reconnect with three dimensional public space. Either way, immersive events are all the rage, and Fork n’ Film is coming to New York City to prove it.

The event series has been a huge hit in their original home of LA, and they’re about to make their Big Apple debut in September with the same concept: tying dinner and a movie together into one magical night out.

The idea is simple, ingenious in the way, that everything successful seems simple once it’s already popular. Guests arrive for a movie screening, settling in to a table instead of a row of seats. The film begins, and as key events happen on screen, the team at Fork n’ Film delivers a coursed-out series of fun and interactive dishes inspired by and timed up with the action.

Hagrid brings Harry Potter an iconic birthday cake in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and all of a sudden a perfect replica lands in front of you, too. Remy the rat makes potato leek soup in Ratatouille, and you are delivered a little pot of broth with fistfuls of herbs and spices to drop in yourself at the same time. Dishes are playful and creative, with lots of flash and smoke, trickery and whimsical touches like edible paper or a dish served with a lit sparkler.

Photo by Athena Alvarado and Alec Gondobintoro, courtesy of Fork n' Film

The immersive dinner experience comes from Nick Houston and Francesca Duncan, two creative types—Duncan is a singer-songwriter and Houston is a writer—who love food and movies, and who share an entrepreneurial spirit. The couple had been looking to make a professional move into the food world in one way or another, toying with a few different projects, and the vision for this one was totally clear to them both. There was a logical, actionable path forward: find a venue, put on a movie, serve dinner. So they tried it out, hopeful but not exactly expecting it to blow up—but blow up it did.

Thanks to the clever concept and some savvy choices, like picking iconic movies and creating fun and photogenic dishes that are particularly appealing to an online audience, Fork n’ Film was an instant hit on social media. Posts featuring the experience got millions of views, and all of a sudden they were selling out every date within minutes of going on sale. Celebrities like Keke Palmer, Dane Cook, and Kristen Bell started coming through, and it grew into a certified hit almost overnight.

“We literally thought that it was just going to be our friends and our parents,” Houston says. But it’s been way, way bigger than that. And there’s a lot more in store for them, too.

Photo by Athena Alvarado and Alec Gondobintoro, courtesy of Fork n' Film

First on the agenda is the new soon-to-be-announced NYC location. Tickets will go on sale September 1, and the experience will debut September 29 and run through the holidays, with more dates added and tickets released over time. It may seem like a big jump, but it’s a homecoming for the NYC native Duncan, a special chance for her to bring a passion project back across the country.

It’s been a tough ticket to get, but if you’re able to snag some seats you’re in for a treat. The NYC run will debut with a fresh round of perfectly on-brand movie choices: Hocus Pocus for Halloween, then The Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf, and The Polar Express through the holiday season.

They’ve only been doing this a few months, and Houston and Duncan are both still a little bit in shock at their success. “There’s a new moment every day where we’re like ‘oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” Duncan says. And for Houston, he says, “every day I wake up and I’m like ‘are we really doing this? Is this real?’”

But it’s very real, and there’s a lot more to come. They’re also in the early stages of development on partnerships with major media companies, which could include things like official toys or merchandise as a ‘course’ of the event, or closer collaboration with the filmmakers and producers. But whatever they do, it will be centered on great food, and infused with the magic of the movies.

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Ben Mesirow is a Staff Writer at Thrillist.