SXSW Meet Up: Underground Tables

Some secret supper clubs and pop-up dinners are hidden in plain sight

As popular as semi-clandestine food events can be, you’d think the relevant South By meet-up would’ve been packed like drupelets on a raspberry.

Aurel Pop (l) during the Underground Table Meet Up at SXSW 2017 (Photo by John Anderson)

But whether it was due to the effect of steady sky-drizzle on attendance in general – or because people just don’t wanna sit around and talk about food, LOL, as if – so much the better for the half-dozen journos and chefs who showed up to talk secret supper clubs and pop-up dinners with Kati Luedecke of Killa Wasi and Aurel Pop and Rudi Ngnepi of Cameromania.

A couple of SXSWs past, I’d waxed all ranty about (sadly departed) Dinner Lab’s shindig, and now here was a chance to get the goods on the current scene. Well, at least two parts of the current scene. Two, so it seems, extremely satisfying parts of the current scene.

Aurel Pop is from Romania; Rudi Ngnepi is from Cameroon. The two full-time engineers – who met in Hungary years ago, then connected again in Austin – moonlight as Cameromania, staging community dinners that immerse attendees in the culture and food of those two countries, the cuisine serving to join groups of foodies from different backgrounds for an intimate evening with complete strangers. “Community is the most important thing,” says Ngnepi, “the people getting together to experience what Aurel and I provide.” They’ve done four dinners so far – and each has sold out. You want in on this action, you’ll need to contact one of the men yourself: No website or Facebook page exists for Cameromania, but you could check out Pop’s Gourmet Cubicle blog for more.

When these two amateur cooks were starting out, they (wisely) sought advice from a professional. That professional was Brenham native Kati Luedecke, a chef who studied at Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and has much experience in the local restaurant and catering industry. And this Luedecke was also, yes, the other part of this meet-up, telling us about her food truck Killa Wasi, a purveyor of Peruvian food, and the dinners she stages for locals jonesing for those unique South American flavors. Note: The venue’s name refers to the Incan goddess of the moon – and, when it comes to her passion for both food itself and women-in-the-culinary-industry, Luedecke is, in person, about as fierce as that lunar deity herself. The Killa Wasi truck – actually, a transmogrified 40-foot school bus – is set to open with regular hours after SXSW, and you can find more information on that website.

Underground Table Meet Up

Saturday, March 11, JW Marriott

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