Public Domain Dinners: Not-So-Secret Suppers

Chrissy Reed

Six years ago, Damien Schaefer and his Four Coursemen cohorts helped pioneer secret suppers in Athens, Georgia, bringing together small groups of eaters for adventurous dining experiences (if you emailed them and received a reply with directions, you knew you’d made the cut). Now, the graphic designer turned food maverick is taking alt-dining mainstream with a series of touring Public Domain dinners. “Our mission was always to be educational—to learn and experiment,” Schaefer says. “To do that, we knew we’d have to take it to other towns, source food locally, find out who and where it’s coming from.” Primarily a solo venture for Schaefer, the Public Domain dinners spotlight a revolving door of chefs, farmers, and food artisans—and a guest Courseman or two—while benefiting local food and land organizations.

After an inaugural dinner in Charleston, South Carolina, with the Grocery’s Kevin Johnson, Schaefer is heading back to Athens. On October 26, he’ll pair up with Five & Ten chef Dean Neff and Luna Baking Corp’s Matt Downes for a 120-person dinner at Woodland Gardens. Though the menu is largely dependent on day-of availability, guests can expect fresh-from-the-dirt ingredients sourced on site. (To reserve a seat, call 706-613-0122 or email Nathan@athenslandtrust.org.)

Look out for upcoming events in Birmingham, Austin, New York City, and more. And don’t worry, this time around reservation info is easy to come by thanks to Schaefer’s new website (publicdomaindinners.com). Just sign up and receive a notice each time a dinner is confirmed. No secret emails. No hidden directions.

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