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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dinner in the Dark Breaks with Tradition for All-Star Moxie Reunion

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 11:03 AM

Once a month for more than four years, the team from Dinner in the Dark hosts a six-course meal for ticketed guests, with each course crafted by one of six local chefs and the proceeds going to charity. Neither the chefs nor the food are revealed until the very moment the guests arrive – hence the “in the dark” portion of the name.

For the next event, scheduled for Monday, March 9, the group is breaking with tradition for the very first time. That’s because the lineup for the dinner is so unique and special that DITD founder Brian Okin felt that it was worth it. The dinner, which will take place at Grove Hill in Chagrin Falls, is going to serve as a reunion for a group of gifted chefs who all happened to work together at Moxie nearly 20 years ago.

“Dinner in the Dark has always been about getting chefs together who don’t normally work together,” explains Okin. “The fact that this is a reunion of very talented chefs who all happened to work together is not very typical. I think this is great opportunity to get them back together, and I want people to know about it.”

It’s difficult to fathom, but 18 years ago, when Moxie first opened in Beachwood, the kitchen was stacked with talent. On the payroll at the very same time was Jonathan Bennett, Doug Katz, Karen Small, Eric Williams, Heidi Robb and Tim Bando. Talk about a dream team.

The idea to get the gang back together was hatched by Bando.

“For me, I had come back to town [from New York] but hadn’t really seen anybody because we’re all too busy with our own places,” Bando says. “I thought it would be kind of fun to get together and cook with all the chefs who worked at Moxie all those years ago. I mean, how cool will it be to get everybody together again after, what, 18 years?”

What’s truly surprising is that each of these talented chefs went on to do great things right here in Cleveland. Katz has Fire Food & Drink and Provenance, Small has Flying Fig, Williams has Momocho and El Carnicero, Robb is a food stylist, Bando has Grove Hill, and Bennett, the only chef to remain, is now a partner in Moxie and Red.

Apart from this article, everything else about Dinner in the Dark will stick to design. That means the dinner will follow the set-in-stone structure of two starter courses, one salad-type course, a fish course, a meat course and a dessert course, all paired with beverages.

“There’s complete freedom in Dinner in the Dark for the chef to cook whatever they want,” Okin explains. “The only controls we put on them is the structure, just so we don’t have four chefs in a row cooking the same thing.”

For Bennett, who has managed to sustain Moxie as one of Cleveland’s top restaurants for just shy of two decades, the event will be a truly special one.

“What a cool night,” he says. “The amount of great talent that we have in Cleveland has grown exponentially in the last 15 years and it’s amazing that a lot of those great chefs have spent time at Moxie. There’s only one thing better than a great family reunion and that’s one with amazing food.”

Grab your tickets here while you can; they won’t last long.

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