Interview with Founder of Dallas Supper Club, Sean Granfield

Sean Granfield's Dallas Supper Club
Sean Granfield’s Dallas Supper Club

Sean Granfield is the embodiment of the quintessential phrase, “One should never judge a book by its cover.” As a software consultant with no formal training in the culinary arts, he has managed to create a thriving platform for Dallas’ dynamic, cuisine curious community. Having the opportunity to travel internationally and be exposed to different cultures, Granfield developed a global palate at an early age. Realizing that a culinary education was not a necessity for appreciating good food, in 2015 he launched the Dallas Supper Club, a dining membership that hosts monthly dinner series and experiential culinary events. From backyard BBQ’s to artistically inspired dishes it offers a wide spectrum of experiences that would whet the appetites of any die hard epicure or refined foodie.

It’s no surprise that supper clubs are popping up everywhere in some of the world’s top destinations. Their concepts are as much about food as the social dynamic involved in creating the perfect atmosphere ripe for personal interactions. Only at these underground eateries can strangers sit at a communal table and experience the cuisine of renown chefs, who crave a platform to test their innovative ideas on an enthusiastic audience

Haute Living had the opportunity to speak to Dallas Supper Club’s founder and host, Sean Granfield to discuss what’s next for one of Dallas’ hottest culinary venues.

Where are you originally from and how long have you been in Dallas?
I grew up in southern California but spent much of my childhood in Dallas. I went to the University of Oklahoma and then stayed in Oklahoma City until 2012, before moving back to Dallas.

What’s your background in food?
No formal training or work in a restaurant. I grew up in a household that loved great food, and with parents that didn’t let me order off the “kids menu!” We traveled a lot as a family which exposed me to a world of food and flavors at a young age. This grew to a lifelong passion for everything food!

Do you cook?
I do. My wife and I cook as much as we can, but neither of us has formal training.

What is your signature dish?
I love to throw things together from whatever we have left in the fridge.

What fueled the concept behind the Dallas Supper Club?
It was a combination of things. First was my love of food and the experience you have at a world class restaurant. Furthermore, I truly love the experience of a chefs tasting menu. I feel it’s the greatest way to see into the mind of a chef and to be taken on a journey through food. This love combined with my technology startup background, pompted my development of the concept. Other concepts such as Dinner Lab, Chefs Club NY, and others helped me shape the actual structure of the concept – tickets, email list, etc.

What is the premise of the Dallas Supper Club?
A group of like minded food lovers coming together for one of a kind dining experiences from Dallas’ greatest chefs, in rotating venues across the city!

Have you been a patron at other super clubs/pop up dining? Which was your favorite and why?
Yes – Dinner Lab, Frank Underground, Chef DAT. My favorite was Frank, because it felt organic and true to the chef’s passion.

Is there a chef that you would like the opportunity to work with?
In Dallas, it would be Matt McCallister or Bruno Devalion. Outside of Dallas, I would love to bring in Sean Brock, David Chang, David Kinch, or anyone who would love to cook for a group of passionate food lovers!

How do you think Dallas’ culinary scene has evolved?
It’s evolving, but slowly. We are still a meat and potatoes city. We have more steak houses popping up in uptown than I can keep track of…That said, you can see with spots like Small Brewpub, FT33, Casa Rubio, CBD Provisions, Filament, and others, that there is a place for highly executed and progressive cuisine. What I still feel we are missing, is a greater level of trust in our chefs. I’d love to see more tasting approachable tasting menus, like those of Aster in SF; where you can build your own menu from a selection of courses for a reasonable price. Small steps like that will allow Dallas to evolve further into a Chefs driven culinary scene as opposed to a corporate scene today!

How do you choose the venues for the popup dinners?
It’s based on the size requirement of our guest list and the kitchen demands of our chefs.

Do you merge other arts into the culinary experience?
We do try. We have hosted dinners at Galleries with silent auctions and such, but haven’t brought in a live music component or live artist yet. We do want to though!

Is it a private club or open to the public?
It’s private, but free. You must join to access the dinner tickets, but we have no screening process for those that want to sign up!

How can one score a seat at your dinner table?
You have to be quick. All members receive a dinner password one hour prior to tickets going on sale. The password grants you access to the ticketing system, where it is first-come first-serve. Tickets typically sell out within 15 minutes.

Do you have any mentors and if so what did you take away from them?
Not a formal mentor. I learn everything I can from the chefs, the beverage partners, venue owners etc. I’ve learned almost everything as the concept has grown, and I think that has allowed for a more organic feel. It’s not artificial and the guests can feel that!

Last day on Earth what city would you be eating in?

And what would be your last meal?
Traditional bistro-style steak tartare with french fries and a nice red table wine!

How would you describe Texas cuisine?
Meat dominant, without a lot of risk. But that is changing in the major metros. Austin is certainly the flag bearer of the most progressive cuisine with the likes of Uchi, Barley Swine, Qui, Lenoir, etc. Houston is right there too being such a melting pot and I feel Dallas is close behind but still has some way to go!

Sommelier or Mixologist?
Sommelier – something I would love to get into if the time was right.

How would you classify a modern chef?
Someone who can take their guests on a culinary journey full of surprises but also comfort. Someone who is pushing the boundaries of ingredients, through pickling, fermenting, etc. A chef who is not scared to take risks and is comfortable telling the guests what to eat vs. accepting the status

How do you think the glamorization of being a chef has changed the industry? 

It has given chefs the perspective that the traditional path is too long and hard. This is creating a mindset that leads to burnout or chefs prematurely going out on their own to little or no success. On the positive side, I feel it’s attracting more talented people to the industry and giving diners a different view of the kitchen, where they can accept the chef as more of an artist than a commodity.

Working on any new projects? Future plans?
We have thought long and hard about the future of the DSC. We want to continue scaling the concept through more frequent and larger events. We would love to add elements like live music or artists, but as of now, we really try to focus on executing each dinner to the greatest extent possible, knowing the rest will then take care of itself.

Is there a patron that is on your wish list?
Anthony Bourdain is a hero of mine! That would be the ultimate guest and feeling of validation!