By Helen Mitternight
***UPDATE: UGK EVENT POSTPONED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS. WE WILL SHARE NEWS RELATED TO RESCHEDULING AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE.***
...the food is fancy, but you don’t have to be. It’s not about how you come, it’s about who you meet. — Micheal Sparks
Mystery meat may not appeal, but mystery dining? That’s fun.
Underground Kitchen, or UGK for short, is back in Charleston this month, bringing its air of elegant mystery — diners have no idea where they’re dining until 48 hours before the dinner.
“It’s in a historic building that very few people have been in but if they live in Charleston, it’s probably walking distance,” hints UGK founder Micheal Sparks. “It has very special gardens.”
Sparks says he loves bringing his dinners to Charleston because “Charleston is one of the great food hubs in America, as respected as New York, San Francisco and L.A.” Sparks grew up in Pittsburgh but his grandparents were from Columbia, SC, and Augusta, GA, so his roots are Southern.
This dinner’s name is “The Artistry of Artisans.” Will Richardson, who just joined UGK in Richmond this month, is the featured chef. He is Chef-Owner of the former Shoryuken Ramen restaurant in Richmond, Va. In 2015, his Hayashi ramen dish took the ‘Best Dish’ award at the 2015 Broad Appetit food festival in Richmond. After Shoryuken closed in 2016, he opened Kudzu, a pop-up series that focuses on his Asian and American roots.
At the last Charleston dinner in December, UGK worked with Orlando Pagán of Cannon Green and Wild Common, Penn Kinsey, Co-owner + Executive Chef of Park City, Utah’s Blind Dog Seafood & Raw Bar, and Lemar Farrington, Owner of Raleigh-based Amalie(a) personal chef service.
Sparks says his instructions to the chefs are to use the dinners as an opportunity to tell people about themselves. Paired wines at the upcoming dinner are from a small batch in Bordeaux.
Dress is business casual because “the food is fancy, but you don’t have to be. It’s not about how you come, it’s about who you meet.”
Tickets, which are limited to 50, are still available for the dinner: March 12 | Location TBD | Cocktails in the garden start at 6:30 pm | https://theundergroundkitchen.org/tickets/