Chef Q&A: Gulf Pig Underground Dinner Club Celebrates One Year of Deliciousness
Michael O’Boyle is the man behind the now seemingly legendary Gulf Pig Underground Dinner Club in Shreveport, Louisiana. I watched in awe from my confines in Baton Rouge to see the dinners unfold through social media. Recently, I got a chance to talk to Michael about the story behind Gulf Pig. Below is Q&A with the West Monroe native about Gulf Pig, how it started, and where it will go.
JD: How did Gulf Pig start and who are the people behind it?
MO: Gulf Pig started as an idea I had while sitting at my now closed coffee shop in the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City. In 2010, I did a guest chef meet at an Art Museum in downtown Shreveport called “ArtsSpace–Someone’s in the Kitchen.” I realized that I could be doing these types of dinners on my own. I wanted to keep the focus on Louisiana and the south so I thought of the Gulf of Mexico and the fact that I love pork. Besides myself, my wife Ann handles the front-of-the-house duties along with a couple friends of ours—Jaimee and Robin Rice. Robin is my right hand man in the kitchen and Jaimee and Ann help plate, prep, and run food. Our most consistent other team member has been Chef Anthony Felan of Shreveport’s Wine Country Bistro.
JD: What is the overall concept of the dinners?
MO: We create a multi-course meal based around a theme, most recently Contemporary Southern. We release a limited menu of just the flavors to expect and the diners do not get the full menu until they sit down at the table to eat. A limited amount of tickets are sold online and the locations of the dinners are not revealed unless you buy a ticket. The host restaurant sells a wine pairing for the meal. For the last dinner which was our one year anniversary, we had diners vote on which courses to include from all our previous Gulf Pig dinners. That was the only time we repeated a course.
JD: Why did this concept appeal to you so much?
MO: I didn’t want to be tied down to a restaurant seven days a week so this gave me an opportunity to get my style of cuisine out there as well as shine some light on our great local places to eat instead of the chain restaurants that dominate the food landscape of this area. The diners do not get to choose what they eat and I always try to include one dish that tests them, that gets them out of their comfort zone.
JD: What's the future of the event? Where do you see it going from here?
MO: We may start doing the dinners more frequently and on a smaller scale. We want to expand and start hosting them in other cities around us (Dallas, Baton Rouge, NOLA, etc.). I know that I want to publish a cookbook detailing all the recipes we have done so far and maybe a few we have held back on for the dinners. Beyond that anything is possible.
Jay D. Ducote is the author of the food and beverage blog Bite and Booze, host of the Bite and Booze Radio Show and co-host of Raise a Glass. You can find him online at biteandbooze.com.