Chefs’ Night Off Indy Brings Diners Into The Creative Minds Of Indianapolis Chefs
“Suggestions? Keep them to yourself.” As posted to its website, Chefs’ Night Off Indy isn’t particularly interested in menu modifications (which will be “politely declined”) or diners’ ideas to improve the program. Instead, it’s perfectly content having fun, just as it set out to do in the first place.
Dreamed up over cocktails back in 2013, Chefs’ Night Off is the invention of RJ Wall and Andrew Whitmoyer, created to spur and showcase Indianapolis’s burgeoning culinary scene. It allows chefs to work together and exchange ideas in a way that they normally would not be able to. Wall had already started a version of it when he lived in Chicago, and he brought the idea with him when he moved to Indianapolis.
The monthly pop-up dinners work a little like this: Diners buy tickets online, having only a faint concept of a general culinary theme for the night (if there is one) and no idea if the chefs will be able to address any food allergies in the room (they “make no promises”). The culinary curious then show up at the designated restaurant and have a seat at a large communal table for sumptuous dishes presented without fanfare, sometimes even on paper plates. The meal represents the culinary fantasies and latent dreams of chefs blowing off some creative steam on their night off.
The dishes do not disappoint.
Meals consist of four to five mouthwatering courses, and the chefs often create the dishes as a way to open the eyes of diners to foods they normally wouldn’t see in the self-admitted chain capital. Plus, occasionally some of the proceeds benefit various local charities.
Best of all, there’s no obligation to dress nicely. In fact, Wall encourages diners to dress comfortably, which comes as a welcome blessing after five ignore-the-diet courses.