A Secret Dinner in Lima

The term “Clandestine Dinners” tends to evoke the idea of forbidden practices behind closed doors. But, have no fear! Nothing illegal goes on at these events: they simply offer an exclusive experience for those willing to blindly trust the host, Wister, and his team of chefs.

Awaiting guests is a gourmet night devoted to savoring five courses guaranteed to delight the most discerning palate. You will also be a guest in a private home, behind closed doors, only available through prior booking. And that is all guests know before they arrive.

The idea is for the exact address of the dinner to arrive at the guests’ e-mail addresses on the same evening, and for guests to discover the theme of the gastronomic journey prepared for them when they arrive. This touch of mystery makes the whole thing more fun than simply going out to a restaurant. And so that is how, one Friday night, I found myself ringing the doorbell of a building on Malecón de Miraflores with a floor number in my hand, as my curiosity extended from my head to my stomach. Believe me, there’s more than one reason to put your trust in The Jato Project:

. You’ll eat in good company:

On that Friday night, we found ourselves in a group of fifteen dinner guests, seated around a single large table. Some of us new each other, while others did not. The idea is to create new friendships, or to at least enjoy a few pleasant moments together, chatting with other guests between mouthfuls. In fact, the majority of the guests at these clandestine dinners are women. So now you know, we women are simply more adventurous!

. You won’t have to spend time choosing an option from a menu:

On our evening, we found a sheet of paper on the table with a single word enigmatically alluding to each dish. The list said “Mushrooms, Grains, Octopus, Offal and Dates”; so many things that I probably wouldn’t have selected from a menu. But, guess who finished every dish?

. You’ll be served a creative and novel fusion dish:

This is the real heart of the concept: giving a chance to young and talented chefs who are seeking to surprise diners with new ideas.

On our Friday night, the theme was “Conflicting Emotions”, in the company of Rafael, a chef from Puerto Rico, and Mauricio, a Peruvian chef who acted as his assistant. The experience was a combination of Puerto Rican and Peruvian trends, somewhere between nostalgia and new challenges. Everything was delicious! We began with a creamy mushroom soup that warmed the night for us with its dash of achiote oil. This was followed by black beans and chickpeas over creamed avocado, to refresh the palate and prepare us for the cold soused octopus that came next, served with peach fingers. We discovered that in Puerto Rico “tacachos” are known as “mofongos”, but that they are just as tasty, especially when they’re served with a green garlic and parsley “chimichurri” sauce and medium-cooked offal. This culinary journey ended with a dessert that won many plaudits. It was a homemade date tart with almond whipped cream, which melted in the mouth like a slice of sunlight. In addition to the five courses, guests can order a glass of wine or craft beer (the selection could be better). Fruit cordial is served on the house. As I’ve already said, you won’t have any idea about the menu before it’s served, but you’ll always get auteur cooking, created with love and passion, just for that one night. The dishes are light, but you’ll find yourself satisfied by the end of the evening.

Each dinner is different, and each evening is different, but there is always music, candles, and a friendly atmosphere. Sometimes you’ll even get to enter the kitchen and participate a little and chat with the chef. On other occasions, they might blindfold you so you’ll have to guess what you’re eating. The idea is to get out of your comfort zone and dare to try something different. In his home country, Rafael has a catering business and a food truck. Here in Peru, he trained at Casa Moreira (Gastón Acurio’s most famous restaurant) and at Mercado. These chefs are certainly more than capable of satisfying a demanding public. The concept has been operating in Lima for a year. They had some failures (such as the Games of Thrones dinner, which received a lot of negative comments), but they learned from their mistakes and now they are more careful, as well as being more ambitious.

Would you dare to go to a secret location without knowing what you’re going to eat? Why not give it a try? Sign up for a session, pay your ticket (because it’s only for 12 to 15 guests you can’t cancel at the last minute) and go along to the address you’re given with a smile on your face and ready for anything.

Clandestine dinner: The experience + 5 courses for S/80 Peruvian soles

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