Wednesday, October 24, 2007

iMOCA Art Wine Dinner @ L'Explorateur

Some of the most memorable wine dinners I've attended were those based on a creative theme, not always those featuring wines of a certain region or from a certain winery. Most chefs will tell you coming up with the creative theme is the hard part! But based after an article in last summer's Food and Wine, Chef Neal Brown had the idea of creating dishes based on art -- and we, at iMOCA were happy to partner with him to focus on iconic contemporary art in Indy. Neal is putting the finishing touches on a menu based on iconic works from Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture (at the IMA) to the thought-provoking Xanadu from Robert Boyd (exhibited last month at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art -- iMOCA.)

After the Seven Deadly Sins dinner last February, I knew Neal would have a blast with the theme. Want to see what he's come up with? What dishes will he create based on these pieces of contemporary art? And what wines will pair with them? Here's your chance. Space is still available and a portion of the proceeds benefits iMOCA.

iMOCA Art and Wine Dinner
Monday, October 29
6:30 p.m. @ L'Explorateur
Reservations through or call


Anonymous said...

$100 for a wine dinner?????????

Anonymous said...

maybe that's why there is still room. i would love to go but, $252 for dinner w tax and tip for 2. it's not new year's eve and it's not my anniversary. i have been there recently and they are doing well but, $252.

Anonymous said...

I've been to many wine dinners that were more than $100 a person and that was with no potion of moneies benefitting a worthy cause. Every person has their own threshold, I suppose. I'll be there.

Anonymous said...

were the dinners in indianapolis? where?

braingirl said...

>re: 5:19

Anon is right -- that price isn't out of line. All the good restaurants do these types of diners. I've been to non-charity $75-125 a person food/wine pairing dinners at Oakley's, Oceanaire, Elements, L'Explorateur, and Ruth's Chris.

Private events for some of the food and wine societies can run this price or higher per person.

I didn't talk to Neal today, but I don't think we're hurting for reservations for this particular dinner either. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I've yet to see any truly good sit-down wine dinners done in the $40 range that featured outstanding wines. Just my two cents. (It can get expensive, though, so I'm pretty choosy about which ones I pick. I think I did post a year or two ago on how to choose great wine dinners for your price range and palatte. I'll dig it up.)

sgillie said...

The meal Chef Brown is preparing next week would cost 2-3 times more in New York or Chicago.

What's wrong with you cheap pussies? Pony up for good food and a good cause.

Anonymous said...

Chef Brown is a chef in Indianapolis, not Chicago. If he chooses those prices, then deliver. Being called a cheap pussy for choosing not to go to a dinner for the price is just what I would expect from someone like you, a pompus, arrogant, know it all with an infantile palate. This blog is great for the conversation but, name calling is unnecessay. The Riley Dinner at the Oceanaire is $125 for a ggod cause with 7 chefs and 7 courses. Greg would not go near $100, Ruth's is over priced and they under deliver, Neal hasn't gone anywhere near $100 before and you are simply lying to the people that read this blog. The Chaines dinners are usually $65 per person, I know, I attend. I hope the dinner is good on Monday night, I support Neal, but if I want to make a donation to the IOMCA I will on my own.

Anonymous said...

IMOCA sorry, im PISSED

braingirl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
braingirl said...

Sorry -- scribbled my own post due to a typo.

The last several dinners at Neal's (single vendor vintner dinners or theme dinners, not the Harvest dinners he did last fall for the BR Farmer's Market) were at least $75. I didn't check the receipt but I'm pretty sure Seven Deadly Sins dinner was $95 -- possibly more.

The last several dinners I attended at Oakley's (last year or the year before) were all $95 or more. They may have gone up.

And the Chaine dinner last week was $120 a person. Just data points.

braingirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
braingirl said...

Sorry to be so damned scribbly:

Two more data points: The last Conferie des Chevalier du Tastevin event I attended (a couple of months ago) was $115 a person (for I think 8 wines and stand-up food pairings to match). I'd wager their wine dinner at Woodstock on Friday will be similar price or more. (We'll know when we get there.)

Certainly organizations like Chaine and Conferie are NPOs, but members pay dues in addition to the cost of the dinners. And one could argue the wines are better, or the food. (Maybe, maybe not on both counts.)

Ultimately, there's no question that wine dinners can sometimes feel hit or miss. I always want to know who's doing the pairing and often I'll skip it if it's a chef I just don't love. Find a price range you like and go for it. But I don't think you can automatically discount everything else at a higher price range as a bad value.

Terry Kirts said...

I'm not going to this dinner because I (unfortunately) have another Monday night obligation. In general, when I have attended wine dinners, they've been more in the $75 range, and I understand that some people don't have $100 to give. But I've also cooked dinners for large groups of people and tried to get some excellent wine for those dinners, and I know how much excellent fresh ingredients, good wine, and the legwork getting everything ready cost (and I wasn't donating some of the costs!). When you think that a chef has to have a staff to help him out, has to charge a much lower price for the wine than he/she would for normal restaurant customers, and still has to give some portion of the cost over to the charity that's organizing the event, it's a wonder these meals aren't more. Neal won't be serving buffet food at $8 a head and wine that's $5 a bottle.

Let's do some comparisons:

Lowest Colts ticket price for remaining games on StubHub: $71.
Current ticket price to see Hannah Montana at Conseco on Dec. 9: $122 (I had to tell my nieces in Illinois "no.")
Average price of steak (not including chopped steak--and with nothing included) at St. Elmo: $38 (think you could have multiple courses with wine there for under $100?).
Best unrestricted rate for single occupancy room for one night at Conrad Hotel in February of next year: $259.00.

Of course, one has to decide what donations one can fit into the budget for the year. But if you think of it as $50 for an undoubtedly excellent meal and at least as good if not better wine than is in your cellar right now (you have a cellar, right?) and a $50 donation to support contemporary art in Indianapolis, well, does that seem like that much? (I have no idea what the breakdown will be, by the way.)

I have given to plenty of charitable organizations in the past without any other benefit than the knowledge that I gave to that organization. And I've spent $50 on a meal for myself without even thinking about it. The idea that I could not only give to a charity but also have a meal that I'll remember for months and maybe years to come (I have attended two Chef's Alliance dinners, and I remember them both quite vividly), I can think of much, much worse ways to spend my money.

Here's hoping that all the reservations fill and that everyone has a great time and leaves asking what the date for *next* year's dinner will be.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I normally wouldn't do this, but I think this is an important and obviously controversial topic. I am going to try (harder than you know) to keep this positive, without attacking the ignorance of some. Oops.

You obviously have no fucking clue what it cost to run a restaurant anonymous (copout). My accountant begs me every month to stop participating in charitable events because we LOSE OUR ASSES!


This month I have:

Provided six hundred appetizers to the Gleaners Food Bank
Provided six hundred appetizers to the March of Dimes
Gave away a $100 dinner to a bunch of dentists for their auction.
Gave away a $100 dinner to a bunch of lawyers for their auction.
Am doing the imoca dinner on the 29th which we will see absolutely zero profit from.

I do this for three reasons:

1. Exposure. There I said it.

2. I like people. Generally speaking. Except you anonymous. I don't like you.

3. I believe a company is only as good as its benefit to the community. Think I'm BS'ing you? Its in our mission statement, I'd be happy to show it you.

We chose to support Imoca because while I don't believe cooking is an art form (craft), most of the people I know who cook are incredibly artistic people, and I for one like art. We hang local art in our restaurant (with no service fee for a sale I might add), and I call many local artists' "friend". My accountant doesn't get this at all.

So anonymous, sorry your pissed, but you don't have to come, in fact, your not invited.
Enjoy your Tyler Florence Steak & Baked potato salad for Applebee's, while watching Barnaby Jones reruns. And maybe at the end of the day you'll realize who you are.


Anonymous said...

WOW< you sure put me in my place Chef Brown. Did you not read the fact that I support you(used to support you). No love lost, Copout

scubachef said...

Way to go, Neal.

Not only did you rip his dreams out,
you shat down his emotions.

+1 Would read again.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like he'll miss the Chaine dinner at L'explorateur in December. Something tells me it won't be $65 but I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, I will be there, just like the dinner on Monday night. Found out I just got invited a little while ago. I have to see this. Copout

Anonymous said...

Wrong anonymous anonymous. Let me clarify. The anonymous that stated "sorry Imoca, I'm pissed." and the anonymous who posted "$100 for a wine dinner????"

If you are a supporter of local restaurants, I am a supporter of you.


Anonymous said...

By the way, it's not my fault you lose $, maybe when you sit down tonight, you will realize who you are.

Peter said...

Wow - this is as infantile as the message boards.

Here's a thought: Go if you want to go. If not, then don't.

Anonymous said...

Please see above post. I was not including you in this rant.
Now, I have a very elegant, fun, worthwhile and challenging event to organize.
Great to see some debate about restaurants, food and chefs on this blog though, almost makes me warm and fuzzy.


christine (myplateoryours) said...

Gee, Braingirl, glad you put the post alert on this site so I could know to check out this very fine debate. Would have hated to miss it.

But in general, you know, fundraisers aren't much good unless they help raise funds. It's a separate issue from how much a private wine dinner costs. You go to a fundraiser when you believe in the cause or when the event sounds so great you want to go even when you don't. And though the price might be (and should be) more than that for a comparable event that is not a fund raiser, the value of the ticket above and beyond the value of the meal is tax deductible (like any charitable contribution.) So your actual cost is less than the face value of the ticket anyway.

I guess the difference is that celebrating our birthdays and anniversaries are all about us -- fundraisers are all about someone else. Different decision making calculus altogether.

And while I would not choose to make the point the way he made it, Neal is absolutely right. Chefs are the underappreciated, overworked cog in the fundraiser wheel. They generally donate their time, skill and resources to the cause and in a town as small as Bloomington (where I live) or even Indy, they are hit up over and over again to give. I think they are the unsung heroes here and I say yay for them.

Anonymous said...

so was Brown's dinner worthy of $100?? I would think it was... but I do have to disagree that losing money on something for publicity is such a sacrifice - promotional costs are part of business. I wish Neil all the best though... Indy needs restaurants like his... Creative one's with real talent in the kitchen. It does take a lot of hard work to make a restaurant at all profitable and people should respect the journey of the private restaurant. Support the locals - pay a few bucks for a wine dinner - go home having had a great evening. Thanks Neil Brown for helping the city.