In which cities are you presently located?
As of mid 2017, we have partnered with experiences in New York, Chicago, LA, Houston and Washington DC in the U.S.; Toronto and Vancouver in Canada; and London in the U.K. Those are the cities we define as our “major markets”.
I’m not in one of those cities. Is it worth it for me to join?
It depends on how much you travel; we have a large database of experiences that we know of that take place in cities and countries around the world. The goal of our concierge membership is to hook up traveling food lovers with that network. If you don’t travel at least once a year and aren’t in one of our major markets, we would encourage you to sign up for our mailing list. It’s free, and the easiest way to keep up with when we announce a presence in a new city.
How does it work?
Think of Fork Monkey like a club for supper clubs. When you purchase a membership, you’re purchasing priority access to and up-to-the-minute information about a number of really special food-related experiences. You’ll receive curated food-related content and, as we grow, invitations to test out new and experimental food experiences for free. You can tailor your experience to your preferences by sending us feedback about things you like; we’re most interested in continually refining ways to provide special content and opportunities for our members.
Why do you charge for membership?
We’ve determined that this is the best way to keep people engaged and allow us to feature all of the amazing, interesting and beautiful meals we find without making it financially rough on the chefs (who are usually earning very little money, if any at all, on these meals). We take the time to attend every single one we list and determine whether it’s up to our standards. And then we share those findings with you through thoughtful writing and delectable photography (and those things don’t pay for themselves!)
What’s a Fork Monkey Field Trip?
When we hear of awesome food events that are within a ~3 hour drive of one of our major markets, we’ll put together a transportation package to allow our members to attend without the hassle of worrying about routes/parking/drinking, etc. The vehicles in question are usually small shuttle buses; and they provide an opportunity not just for carefree transportation to the event, but also to meet and connect with fellow Fork Monkey members before you even sit down to the table.
Will there be a member perk for all the other major markets similar to the free tour of Chelsea Market in NYC?
We’re working on it! We’ll send information to our mailing list as soon as we lock those types of things down.
Why do you call yourself a “community”?
Our world has gotten so fractured, so fragmented. We live in a digital age. It allows for so much good, so much knowledge and a certain type of community. But it’s also very isolating. We don’t gather spontaneously much anymore. Acolytes of cities or small towns both have their reasons for why their mode of living is better, but in truth both have significant drawbacks. In cities we’re surrounded by amazing food preparation. From New York to Chicago to Houston to Denver to LA, the population is not only spoilt for choice, but has demanded a level of accountability and sustainability from the food chains therein. We’re also surrounded by people — we might exchange a few words with 10, 12, 15 other people a day. What is troubling is the lack of intimacy; sometimes looking around and seeing hundreds of thousands of other people within arm’s reach and not being able to truly connect to any of them is the most dehumanizing of all.
In suburbs it’s even easier to go from home to work and back home without perhaps ever meeting, greeting or engaging with anyone. In these, and in smaller, more rural communities, though, the problem is less the absence of intimacy and more the absence of thought over what we consume. The lack of access to wholesome, delicious, exciting food is, frankly, depressing. For a country with the incredible boon of arable land that the United States possesses, we have been steadily and steadfastly ruining it with monofarming; for a country with the incredible blend of cultures and populations that the United States possesses, we have allowed xenophobic tendencies to create a culinary landscape in which small, imaginative, ethnic family-run restaurants are met with skepticism and hostility. 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 just sharing the cloud with them), when we speak to that person with our voice (instead of just our keyboard), when we look at the food we eat in real life (and not just 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.
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.