Moveable Feast Delivers Chef-Curated Dinner Parties to Your Door
This past weekend, Chef Kim Alter of San Francisco’s acclaimed Nightbird was the star attraction at my house.
OK, not her in the flesh per se. But her creativity was certainly on full display in half a dozen dishes we heartily enjoyed — without having to leave the house.
Welcome to Moveable Feast, a new nationwide subscription platform that delivers once-a-month dinner parties right to your door, curated by some of the most celebrated chefs from around the country, many of whom boast Michelin stars and James Beard Awards. It’s a meal kit with serious pedigree.
Each dinner requires only 30 minutes or less of assembling, plating and heating before it’s ready to be served. Detailed written instructions are included, as well as a QR code to access videos that show how each dish is presented. There’s even a fun playlist included for each dinner.
Each chef designs their own dinner party meal, which is then prepared in a commercial kitchen in Napa before being shipped out. Each dinner arrives to you on a Thursday or Friday, in time to enjoy on Saturday or Sunday.
The start-up was co-founded by restaurateurs Jon Sybert of Tail Up Goat in Washington, D.C., and John Stubbs of Jewel of the South in New Orleans in 2022 with $550,000 in seed funding, according to Crunchbase.
Besides Alter, Sybert and Stubbs, the other chef partners are: Brandon Rice of Ernest in San Francisco; Nina Compton of Compere Lapin of New Orleans; Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy in New York; Michael Rafidi of Albi in Washington, DC; Melissa Perello of Frances in San Francisco; Bobby Stuckey and Eduardo Valle Lobo of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, CO; Jeremy Fox of Birdie G’s in Los Angeles; Tiffany Derry of Roots Southern Table in Dallas; and Johnny Spero of Reverie in Washington, DC.
These dozen founding chef partners received stock options in the company, while any additional new chefs will receive 10 percent of gross sales from their meals.
Each meal is designed to serve your choice of either 4, 8 or 12 people. Prices will vary, depending upon each chef’s offering.
Suffice to say, this is not an inexpensive dinner party. Of course, throwing your own dinner party would probably be much cheaper if you cooked your own food from scratch using your favorite recipes. But it would be a lot more time consuming to prepare and clean up, too. You might pay less per-person with Moveable Feast than if you had the same amount of food at the chef’s actual restaurant (because you’re not tipping at the end of it). Plus, this way you save a trip across town — or the country — to enjoy a particular restaurant’s food.
When I was invited to test out a dinner party for free, I chose Alter’s, which is offered for the month of November. It’s $385 for 4 people, $770 for 8, and $1155 for 12, inclusive of shipping. You can add wine pairings, too, starting at $250.
My three bottles of wine, curated by Nightbird’s beverage director Ron Boyd, arrived on a Wednesday: a crisp 2022 Massican Sauvignon Blanc with green apple and lemon-lime notes; a citrusy and lightly toasty 2022 Les Heritiers Du Comte Lafon Macon-Villages; and and earthy, smoky 2021 Vivier Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
The food, itself, was delivered on Thursday, complete with instructions on what needed to be refrigerated and what could be stored on the counter. There is a lot of packaging, which can’t be helped. But the items come in compostable pouches, as well as high-quality stainless steel and glass containers that you can easily reuse.
The canapes took mere seconds to put together. All I had to do was pipe the squash “hummus” on a serving plate, sprinkle with black sesame salt, garnish with herbs, and arrange the gem lettuces, romanesco florets, and tiny radishes in it. It made for a gorgeous dish, full of colors and textures.
The hummus was thick, creamy, and a little sweet with the incredible black bean salt adding an explosion of salty, funky, umami. Alter ought to sell jars of this salt because it’s so darn good and would wake up anything it touches, including salads, roasted vegetables, and any protein.
The next canape required merely piping the bag of black garlic ranch on another plate, dolloping on bright orange trout roe, garnishing with fresh mint leaves, and arranging beef tendon chips on it. Think of the latter as like crisp shrimp chips but with a meaty, richer taste. This dish boasted big layers of briny, earthy, and savory flavors that popped on the palate from the first bite.
Next, red beets got tossed with a prepared citrus vinaigrette, toasted hazelnuts, and radicchio leaves before getting arrayed atop piped smoked ricotta. Cooked in charcoal, the beets took on a luscious smoky note that enhanced their natural sweetness and earthiness.
After preheating my oven to 350 degrees, the main course took only 15 minutes to heat. Chicken, both white and dark meat formed together into a perfect brick for each serving, tasted moist and juicy. It was served with a layered sunchoke and potato terrine that let the natural taste of the root veggies shine through without extraneous cream, cheese or milk.
Charred cabbage wedges were also heated in the oven, before being strewn with fresh herbs and fried shallots, and drizzled with a creamy fish sauce aioli that, again, I just wanted to put on everything.
For dessert, there is decadent chocolate cake that looks pretty enough to have come from a bakery, but that you actually assemble in a flash.
Three layers of cake are carefully packed in a container. Just pipe the accompanying mousse made with Teeccino, a caffeine-free, herbal coffee alternative, onto each layer and stack them up. Top the cake with the included poached pear chunks, and chocolate sable crumble.
The cake was moist and very chocolately, like devil’s food, with the mousse filling mimicking having a great cup of coffee with it.
While these are fine-dining restaurant-type meals, don’t worry that the portions will be too skimpy or dainty. Alter’s ended up being a substantial amount of food that left us all happily stuffed.
My husband joked that you could prepare everything and pass it off as your own. A temptingly sly idea to be sure. Unless you have serious cooking chops, though, it’s doubtful your friends and family are going to fall for that. But they are sure to feel pampered by the results.