Sunday Dinners in Paris

Over the last days I have been working on my big list again, the one where I add all the underground restaurants I come across when surfing through the World Wide Web. I travel the blogs, websites and Facebook pages, wishing I could go on an open-end journey and try them all. Becoming a supper club tester, why not? There are jobs worse than that.

Sadly, that seems hardly possible as my list is getting close to 1000 entries. Even at the speed of 1 per day it would take almost 3 years to visit them all. The fact that most of these private establishments do open on Fridays or Saturdays only, hardly ever on weekdays, would extend my journey to approximately 10 years. A further complication is that dates are scheduled rather irregularly. Some hosts set the table once per week, some every fortnight and others whenever they feel like. Realistically, this is something between a lifetime job and a mission impossible! But if someone wants to pay me for doing it, don’t be shy: Reach out, you will surely be heard!

In the meantime I will share some of my findings here. One of my most impressive discoveries is definitely Jim Haynes in Paris. An artist, book publisher and author in his late 70s who has been holding a weekly Sunday Dinner in his home for, hold on: Well over 30 years, imagine that! And not just for a handful of people. 50 or 60 get invited to his atelier each Sunday, or up to twice that number in summer when the dinner becomes an open air happening in the garden. The culinary agenda is always in the hands of someone else, be it a foreign philosophy student or a friend from London. Anyone can attend these dinners by just dropping Jim an email and asking to be added to the guest list. Jim’s mission is to make people randomly meet and connect and talk to each other, no matter what their background, country of origin, race, religion, age or profession is. He even goes as far as memorizing the guests’ names and other details before each event so that he can introduce people to each other. That man alone has hosted well over 100.000 guests since he started. Taken the huge popularity and attention from media one could certainly argue whether his dinners can still be called secret or underground. But without any doubt they are as social as can be in the beautiful pre-Facebook sense of the word: The Sunday Dinner is a veritable melting pot in real life, face to face. Find out more on www.jim-haynes.com.

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