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CBS 2 Investigation: Underground — And Illegal — NYC Dinner Parties


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#1 Dakki

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 12:50 AM

The weirdest (and funniest) story I've read lately. http://newyork.cbslo...dinner-parties/
This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

#2 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 03:20 AM

Popup restaurants are popular here. Probably illegal, but can be fun.

 

We went to one recently where two ladies were doing an Indian meal. It was great especially as Indian cuisine is thin on the ground in rural France.



#3 dcarch

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 04:47 AM

To avoid getting caught, there are probably many ways you can get around from the legal definition of "money" for food. as long as you don't use credit cards.

 

The reporter probably is not much of a "Foodie". Cook with a vacuum machine?

 

dcarch



#4 lesliec

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 03:11 PM

" The city does not allow meals to be served to members of the public in someone’s home.”

 

I had a dinner party recently where I served food to people.  I've been doing it for years without realising I was doing anything wrong.  How shocking!

 

Of course they didn't pay me, so obviously the food safety was that much greater. 


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#5 rotuts

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 04:05 PM

glad to see CBS2 is on top of this.  Very Glad.

 

dumb asses ...

 

as Spiro said in the past:  taking heads.  maybe video heads. 



#6 gfweb

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 04:13 PM

TV reporters are generally dumbasses who'd rather be in showbiz. I've met more than a few and been impressed by none.

#7 annabelle

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 04:45 PM

The first thing I thought when I heard this story is "Those are called get-togethers." 

 

I'll wager this reporter has never been to a block party, either.  $5 to get in.  I'll bet those are illegal too.



#8 Twyst

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 05:58 AM

I thnk they are probably referring to things like this

 

www.dinnerlab.com

 

which by the way is AWESOME.


Edited by Twyst, 22 September 2013 - 05:59 AM.


#9 huiray

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 05:58 AM

Why are folks beating up on the reporter, and pooh-poohing the idea that these "get togethers" are illegal?  It *would* seem that they *are*, by NYC regulations.  The official statesperson is reported to have said they were, and that these places needed a permit.  The host of the "get together", a professional chef, admitted that it *was* illegal and that he worried about getting caught.  The key here is that the diners were strangers, unlike a dinner party of friends/acquaintances even if a friend brought someone who was a stranger to the host - but who, after introductions, would no longer be a stranger.  A block party would involve neighbors, who would at least nominally *not* be strangers to each other and usually would involve neighbors who are also friends.  These "underground dinner parties" appear to be set up specifically to bring together strangers and tourists - as described in the article - for a meal where they must have paid the "host", and where they would go their separate ways after the meal.  Like in a restaurant.  Even with repeat customers.

 

As for that "vacuum machine" - hmm, I thought that one did indeed use a vacuum machine when one bagged and sealed stuff for the sous vide bath? :-)

 

ETA: Poking around a bit more, I read that inner city block parties are in fact often illegal (because no event permit is/was filed for) but the cops tend to turn a blind eye towards them.  If a fee is charged for entrance, it seems to go further into illegal territory unless it is clearly posted that the fee is voluntary.  Here's an interesting discussion on a block party... http://beeradvocate....ty.35252/page-2

 

ETA2: Some other articles about underground eating/supper/dining clubs.  Note the discussion/commentary about getting raided by the authorities and being shut down...depending on the local regulations...

http://www.newyorker...currentPage=all

http://www.npr.org/b...nd-supper-clubs

http://en.wikipedia....ound_restaurant


Edited by huiray, 22 September 2013 - 06:32 AM.


#10 Bill Klapp

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 07:22 AM

Oh, I don't know...if a few New Yorkers want to risk poisoning a few other New Yorkers for fun and profit, what business is it of all of us rubes out here in the sticks?  I mean, as long as the guests are not served soft drinks in quart cups...


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#11 Tri2Cook

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 07:24 AM

Why are folks beating up on the reporter, and pooh-poohing the idea that these "get togethers" are illegal?  It *would* seem that they *are*, by NYC regulations.  The official statesperson is reported to have said they were, and that these places needed a permit.  The host of the "get together", a professional chef, admitted that it *was* illegal and that he worried about getting caught.  The key here is that the diners were strangers, unlike a dinner party of friends/acquaintances even if a friend brought someone who was a stranger to the host - but who, after introductions, would no longer be a stranger.  A block party would involve neighbors, who would at least nominally *not* be strangers to each other and usually would involve neighbors who are also friends.  These "underground dinner parties" appear to be set up specifically to bring together strangers and tourists - as described in the article - for a meal where they must have paid the "host", and where they would go their separate ways after the meal.  Like in a restaurant.  Even with repeat customers.

 

As for that "vacuum machine" - hmm, I thought that one did indeed use a vacuum machine when one bagged and sealed stuff for the sous vide bath? :-)

 

ETA: Poking around a bit more, I read that inner city block parties are in fact often illegal (because no event permit is/was filed for) but the cops tend to turn a blind eye towards them.  If a fee is charged for entrance, it seems to go further into illegal territory unless it is clearly posted that the fee is voluntary.  Here's an interesting discussion on a block party... http://beeradvocate....ty.35252/page-2

 

ETA2: Some other articles about underground eating/supper/dining clubs.  Note the discussion/commentary about getting raided by the authorities and being shut down...depending on the local regulations...

http://www.newyorker...currentPage=all

http://www.npr.org/b...nd-supper-clubs

http://en.wikipedia....ound_restaurant


Absolutely correct. Hosting meals for pay (the part that it seems is being conveniently ignored in this round of "let's denigrate the reporter") in your home/yard/etc. without some sort of license or event permit is indeed illegal in many (most?) places in the U.S. and Canada... even if it is your friends and neighbors. The level of enforcement undoubtedly varies greatly but that doesn't make the reporter incorrect for calling it "illegal".


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#12 annabelle

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 07:59 AM

There's no real crime to investigate in NYC?

 

The whole thing is ludicrous.  It's the equivalent of driving through Alphabet City and writing fix-It tickets for broken taillights and ignoring the drug deals.



#13 rotuts

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 08:07 AM

yar! !



#14 Tri2Cook

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 08:40 AM

There's no real crime to investigate in NYC?

 

The whole thing is ludicrous.  It's the equivalent of driving through Alphabet City and writing fix-It tickets for broken taillights and ignoring the drug deals.


Saying it's okay to snatch someone's purse because the law should be more concerned with bank robberies doesn't change the fact that it's illegal. I've done the private dinner thing in the past (and it's entirely possible I'll do it again someday) but I didn't tell myself it's okay because there are worse things going on in the world. I made my choice and took my chances. If I'd got caught, I'd have had nothing to cry about except my own bad decision.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#15 annabelle

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 09:22 AM

That isn't what I said, Tri2Cook.  In the great sliding scale of stuff to waste manpower on, dinner parties are way down at the bottom of the list next to barking dogs.  Frankly, I'm appalled that you all are gung-ho on law enforcement of what is clearly a nitpicking ordinance.  It's like the unenforced Blue Laws here in the South.

 

The people throwing these underground suppers seem to be affluent or at least middle-class.  The people I spoke of throwing block parties are not.  Many times, like house parties, the cover charge (for lack of a better word) is used to pay bills.  At least that's the way they worked back when I was invited to these things.



#16 gfweb

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 09:43 AM

I can only think of two motivations for government to ban this sort of thing. Protection of public health and collecting taxes and fees. Given that the food police aren't inspecting family kitchens I suspect that the motivation is purely financial

#17 annabelle

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 09:58 AM

Exactly.



#18 Tri2Cook

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 10:10 AM

That isn't what I said, Tri2Cook.  In the great sliding scale of stuff to waste manpower on, dinner parties are way down at the bottom of the list next to barking dogs.  Frankly, I'm appalled that you all are gung-ho on law enforcement of what is clearly a nitpicking ordinance.  It's like the unenforced Blue Laws here in the South.

 

The people throwing these underground suppers seem to be affluent or at least middle-class.  The people I spoke of throwing block parties are not.  Many times, like house parties, the cover charge (for lack of a better word) is used to pay bills.  At least that's the way they worked back when I was invited to these things.


I know I was stretching what you said to it's limits to make my point but the point itself, that, silly or not, it is illegal, remains. I'm not gung-ho about the law enforcement, I'm just acknowledging that it's illegal instead of painting the reporter as an idiot for saying so. I was commenting on some of the responses to the article, not the law. It would be huge overkill to create a task force to track down and raid these events but It's a tough call as to where I stand on the matter in general. On the one hand, I've done it and would possibly do it again. Money aside, it's fun... but the money doesn't lower the appeal. On the other hand, I make a living working in restaurants that have to abide by rules and regulations, possess permits and licenses and be subject to inspections and laws, I'm not sure how I feel about other venues being allowed to do what a restaurant does without having to submit to the same guidelines and requirements. Restaurants don't submit to all of that because it makes things easier, they do it because it's the law and they'll be penalized if they don't. Could they also argue that it's pretty low on the scale of laws that need enforcing and gain public support?


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#19 sigma

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 10:19 AM

Just because something is a law does not mean it isn't stupid.  Tri2Cook, you are basically using the same reasoning a parent uses when they say "it's because I said so."  



#20 Tri2Cook

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 10:43 AM

Just because something is a law does not mean it isn't stupid.  Tri2Cook, you are basically using the same reasoning a parent uses when they say "it's because I said so."  


I'm obviously not stating this as well as I thought I was. Once again, I didn't say it wasn't stupid (although I didn't say it was either, I very specifically said I'm not sure where I stand on it), I said it's the law. Enforcement of the law doesn't (and shouldn't) have any basis in whether or not you personally agree with the law. There are laws that I think are silly but I still accept that, if I choose to break them, I may have to pay a price. I don't tell myself that breaking a law should be overlooked based on my current needs. We have a stretch of highway here that is almost rail-straight, completely unpopulated and without intersecting roads for almost 80 km (50 m) that has a speed limit of 80 kmh (50 mph). Nobody drives that stretch at or below the speed limit. It's silly. But we all know what's going to happen if we get pulled over... because what we were doing is illegal.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#21 annabelle

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 10:44 AM

Tri2Cooks says:

 

"Could they also argue that it's pretty low on the scale of laws that need enforcing and gain public support?"

 

They could. That doesn't mean they'll get their way.  They are a public accommodation and these private parties not a business.  Many  posters here are big fans of pop-up restaurants.

Pop-up restaurants are similarly unlicensed, unregulated and uninspected, just like underground dinner parties.  They are also much more visible, being in a storefront or the like and staying in place for three days or more which would allow for improper food storage and vermin to make a visit.

 

Many laws are foolish or redundant or simply make work legislation put in place by busy-bodies.  All law isn't good law.


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#22 Tri2Cook

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 11:29 AM

So what I'm being asked to agree to is that it's okay to break a law if you think it isn't a good law? I just want to be clear on that... because it would be a very slippery slope in the big picture. And yes, if pop-ups are not following whatever requirements they are supposed to, than doing it is illegal whether it's dumb or not and whether foodies agree or not. I'm not saying anything about the usefulness of any law, I'm only commenting on legal vs. illegal. If it is a law and you choose to break it, don't raise a stink over whatever punishment results. Disagree with it all you want, fight to change it if you can, but don't cry because you made the choice to ignore it and got caught. I think where the problem is coming from is I'm discussing what is with those discussing what they think should be. Both are valid discussions but they're two different things.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#23 annabelle

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 12:23 PM

"So what I'm being asked to agree to is that it's okay to break a law if you think it isn't a good law?"

 

No.  I am saying that if these are the laws that the city chooses to enforce, then that city isn't making wise use of its resources.  In a perfect world every foodcart, pop-up, underground dinner would be fully licensed, inspected, sparkly clean and as a consequence of that, astronomically expensive due to compliance costs.  This isn't the case and it never will be.  People love to game the system and it's not like they are selling bathtub gin or meth (you have to go uptown for that).

 

I'm more bothered by the acceptance of a creeping, grasping authoritarian bureaucracy and people unwilling to vote them out or at the least raise cane about it.


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#24 DiggingDogFarm

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 01:05 PM

Another idiotic consensual 'crime!'

Intrusive busy-body, "do-gooder," "we-know-what's-best-for-you-because-you're-an-idiot" government attempting to protect people from themselves!

Caveat emptor!!!

Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium!!!


Edited by DiggingDogFarm, 22 September 2013 - 01:34 PM.

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#25 annabelle

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 01:24 PM

Hear, hear!



#26 Bill Klapp

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 01:48 PM

Tri2Cook, how about this: you are 100% correct that it is a violation of the law as written. The system, for better or for worse, is that, if we, the people feel that the law is unjust, we must rise up and force our elected officials to repeal the law. Failing that, we can disobey it and challenge it in court, but if the judges all the way up the line find the law constitutional (likely the case here), we are hosed to some minor extent.

Here is the real point: the cub reporter who did this piece cannot yet be trusted with a real story, and is wasting time and stirring up merde for no good purpose. For that reason, and not for any legal reason, the reporter deserves all the abuse being served up. Just as there are more important laws to spend precious resources enforcing, there are real news stories that deserve reportage. This was not one of them...
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#27 heidih

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 03:00 PM

I am not going to address disregarding a law because you don't think it makes sense. What I can't quite wrap my mind around is the implied notion that putting your food dollars to these types of establishments or venues does not hurt the vendors that follow the rules. If I buy tamales from the guy going door to door whose wife makes them in the family kitchen, am I not in effect snatching the financial opportunity from the rule adherent vendors at my farmers markets? The cost may be lower or it may seem more "authentico" but the rule disregarder has a much lower cost of operation and time investment.

#28 Tri2Cook

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 03:05 PM

I'm not arguing whether it's good law, bad law, dumb law or any other kind of law. I never argued against speaking up against it being the law. The only thing I was trying to get across in my initial response is that the reporter wasn't an idiot for calling it illegal because it is illegal. Whether or not it should be illegal is an entirely different matter that I didn't want to venture into and was making no judgements on.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#29 sigma

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 03:22 PM

I am not going to address disregarding a law because you don't think it makes sense. What I can't quite wrap my mind around is the implied notion that putting your food dollars to these types of establishments or venues does not hurt the vendors that follow the rules. If I buy tamales from the guy going door to door whose wife makes them in the family kitchen, am I not in effect snatching the financial opportunity from the rule adherent vendors at my farmers markets? The cost may be lower or it may seem more "authentico" but the rule disregarder has a much lower cost of operation and time investment.

 

This would be true if you had "tamale dollars" burning a hole in your pocket, but since you don't, or I don't think you do, the argument doesn't hold water as a one for one substitution.  Also, it is not my responsibility to support a corrupt system based mainly on rent seeking just because it costs me more to do so.  I'm not taking from your legal tamale vendor, and neither is the underground tamale vendor.  


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#30 dcarch

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 03:34 PM

Street food world wide, bed & breakfast world wide, how many are regulated by law? and how many people have died eating in those places?

 

In this country where we so treasure freedom, we are chained by more laws than any other country.

 

 

dcarch


Edited by dcarch, 22 September 2013 - 03:35 PM.

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