In which cities are you presently located?
Our major markets are New York, Chicago, Los Angelees, Houston and Washington DC in the U.S.; Toronto and Vancouver in Canada; and London in the U.K.
I’m not in one of those cities. Is it worth it for me to join?
Quite possibly yes! We have a large database of experiences that we know about outside of our major markets. There’s a lot of turnover with underground dining, so a big part of what we do is stay on top of new dinners, classes and tours that have cropped up and, conversely, keep track of when something is no longer being offered. The main way that members book experiences with us is via our Instagram account (which you can follow here!) and we often list experiences that are outside of our major markets. And the fact that your Member Money rolls over from year to year means you won’t lose out if we don’t list where you live too often. If you’re still not sure, we would encourage you to sign up for our mailing list. It’s free, we rarely send more than one email a month (no inbox overload!) and it’s the simplest way to keep up with all that we’ve got going on!
How does it work?
Fork Monkey exists to foster community through food. When you purchase a membership, your membership fee gets converted into $240 in Member Money for the All-Access plan or $300 in Member Money for the Concierge plan. You’ll receive curated food-related content and offers from us on a monthly basis in your email, as well as be able to instantly book experiences you see on our Instagram by emailing or DM’ing us. And if you share some extra special dates (birthdays/anniversaries/etc) or preferences with us via our Member Survey, we’ll shoot you a personalized invite now and again for an experience we think you’ll especially love based on your responses.
What’s the difference between the monthly and annual memberships?
In terms of Member Money, both payment options result in the same amount: $240 for an All-Access plan and $300 for a Concierge plan. Paying your membership fee annually in one lump sum helps us pay chefs for tickets to their experiences more readily. But we don’t want to exclude folks for whom a larger lump sum would be tricky financially, so we offer a monthly option with a small premium ($1/month) tacked on for bookkeeping challenges.
What’s a holder’s fee?
We want our members to go forth and eat deliciously, at as many of the experiences we find as possible! The community works best when people participate. So as an incentive to not just join but also dine, we will retain a fee of $40 for All-Access memberships and $50 for Concierge memberships if none of your Member Money was used during the course of the year. The rest of your Member Money will roll over to the following year. All you need to do to avoid the fee is book at least one ticket per year.
Here are two examples to further clarify:
Elizabeth purchases an All-Access membership in 2020 for $240. She books a food tour that costs $30 using her Member Money. At the end of 352 days, she still has $210 remaining. All of that money rolls over to 2021, so when she renews her All-Access membership for another $240, she now has $450 in Member Money to use that year.
Bob purchases a Concierge membership in 2020 for $300. He kind of forgets about it and doesn’t book anything. At the end of 352 days, Fork Monkey will retain $50, and he will have $250 in Member Money left. If he opts not to renew his membership, that is the total he will have available to use in 2021. If after another 352 days he still hasn’t booked anything, Fork Monkey will retain another $50 and he will have $200 in Member Money left for the following year, and so on. But Bob can use his remaining Member Money at any point to have a fun and unique food experience!
Moral of the story: don’t be like Bob. We want you to use all of your money and explore what the underground dining world has to offer!
Why do you call yourself a “community”?
We live in a digital, highly-automated world. This website itself couldn’t have come about if not for that fact. But that can be very isolating. Eating delicious food made of sustainable ingredients with other people is an increasingly rare occurrence. This is true no matter where we live, though the challenges may differ.
In cities we tend to be surrounded by amazing food preparation. Urban populations are frequently spoilt for choice, and that has resulted in a demand for accountability in sourcing responsibly-produced ingredients. We’re also surrounded by people; but sheer volume cannot compensate for intimacy in relationships. Sometimes looking around and seeing hundreds of thousands of other people within arm’s reach without having a meaningful connection to any of them is the most dehumanizing of all.
In suburbs and small towns our problem may not be the absence of intimacy (sometimes we know too much about each other’s business there). Rather it’s that without the same density of food options, people often are forced to settle for what they can get. The lack of access to wholesome, delicious, exciting food in North America in particular is, frankly, depressing. Despite the proximity of many small communities to farmland, and despite the incredible blend of cultures and populations that the continent possesses, the agricultural-industrial complex and xenophobic tendencies have combined to limit the diets of people who reside outside of major cities. Corporate chains churning out gut-busting food laden with the fattiest, saltiest and sweetest ingredients are doing a booming business, even as people’s mental and physical health suffers.
For the reasons of reuniting people in a physical space, for the reasons of reigniting in people a thoughtful, present attitude about what they eat, we are emphasizing the small in scale, the large in taste and spirit. When we see the person we’re meeting and eating with for the first time (instead of sharing the cloud with them), when we speak to that person with our voice (instead of only our keyboard), when we look at the food we eat in real life (and not only on our iPhone) and understand it to be cultivated by a person, prepared by another person, served by yet another person: we collectively restore our humanity little by little. It is with no simpler and yet no greater purpose that we seek to create a community of individuals who will prioritize care and compassion for the land and for their fellow human beings through the context of food.
What if I don’t want to talk to strangers?
That’s ok too! We have a wide variety of unusual dining experiences listed. There are some meals where you’ll be asked and expected to speak to strangers, and some where your level of interaction with anyone besides your guest is entirely up to you. The important thing is not that you talk to strangers but that you experience something unique and special that you don’t find or do very often.
How many meals can I expect to attend?
That’s entirely up to you! If you find an experience you really like that happens quite regularly, you might go one or more times per month. But the blink-and-you-miss-it nature of many of these dinners means that it’s more likely you’d attend 4-6 times over the course of a year if you’re very engaged. Or you might prefer to use it primarily when you travel, which may only be once a year but you’d attend 3 events during that trip.