On a recent Sunday, the kitchen staff at Southern Goods was spending more time than usual outside the kitchen. Executive chef Lyle Bento, for one, was otherwise occupied, wheeling plates filled with noodle salad (made with XO sauce crafted in-house from Gulf seafood) and deviled eggs crowned with homemade ham and salmon roe around the room. For the inaugural BIFI dinner, the chef and his team presented a Southern-style take on dim sum, replete with carts.
What is BIFI? It's the brainchild of former Shade executive chef Kenten Marin and brothers William and Grayson Schrom. It's an acronym for "by industry, for industry," an idea with the goal of creating unusual dinners that will create fellowship between restaurant folks. The meals, on Monday or Sunday nights—the most common days off for restaurant workers—allow chefs to cook what they want to eat, and feed it to like-minded professionals. Attendance isn't limited to restaurant workers, but at Southern Goods, the vast majority of attendees were just that.
Because most food industry lifers aren't exactly rolling in dough, the dinner was notably inexpensive. For $25, diners were given five tickets, each of which paid for a choice from the dim sum carts. Drinks, including cocktails with Asian ingredients, were extra. The 11 small plates ran the gamut from near-perfect rare duck breast served over a spicy cabbage salad and a surf-and-turf of diced hamachi and seared teres major steak to decidedly less elegant, but no less flavorful chicken-fried chicken feet tossed in something that tasted like Buffalo sauce, and trays filled with a half-pound of crawfish and their fixings.
The next event will take place at Ship & Shield on April 24, when chef Pat Sommers will cook a meal for his industry brethren. How do you flex your creative muscles when you already work at a Viking-themed restaurant? Only dinner on the 24th will tell.