Update 9/4: Just spoke to Brennan and due to high demand, he’s opening a few more spots! There are now 6 spots for the first seating and 3 spots for the second seating. See details below for how to access tickets!
On Sunday September 8th, Sub Rosa will play host to a Thai Pop Up offering up cuisine not found in regular RVA restaurants.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, pop up experiences are a temporary restaurant usually hosted in a private home, gallery, or at a festival. Brennan is bringing a twist to the idea, taking over an already successful restaurant and giving the menu a major twist.
We spoke to Brennan and learned a bit more about his passion for food, this new venture, And how we can get a taste.
How long have you been doing these pop up dinners?
Not long at all! I only have one pop-up dinner under my belt: a 7-course meal for 36 people at Salt & Forge on August 4th. However, in addition to full-time employment (I’ve worked as a graphic designer and content marketer), over the past 5 years I’ve done private dinner parties for friends. Anywhere from 3-8 course meals for 8-22 people. Some have been buffet or family-style meals but most are plated and coursed-out.
What is the inspiration behind this concept?
There’s so many things that inspire me to do dinner parties. First, I love introducing people to Thai dishes they otherwise wouldn’t have ordered at a Thai restaurant or perhaps may never see on a menu. It’s always exciting for me when I’m working with a dinner host to put together a menu and they put their trust in me that “Yes, the dish with all those weird-sounding ingredients is absolutely delicious.” I find people are more willing to try new things when an actual person recommends them over just reading about them on a menu. And I like being that person to help them venture out.
At the end of the day, though, I see time in the kitchen as my creative outlet. Even mundane, tedious tasks of prepping certain ingredients, becomes centering – it quiets me. And, inversely, I thrive on the intensity and pressure of having dinner on the table by a certain time. All that to say, I think part of what inspires me to do dinner parties is that it truly is where I feel I shine. It’s where I simultaneously feel excited, peaceful, confident, and challenged.
How long have you been cooking?
In first grade, my mom taught me how to make scrambled eggs and I’ve been cooking ever since. Even throughout grade school, whenever a party popped up, classmates always knew I was going to go all out.
How long have you been cooking professionally?
This part’s kind of weird. My only restaurant experience was mostly front of house. The only restaurant kitchen work I’ve done was expo, acting as the middle man between servers and kitchen staff and ensuring dishes were prepared in a timely manner and plated correctly.
However, I’ve worked in the kitchen of a retreat center (4 years), preparing meals for anywhere between 20 and 100 people depending on the size of the groups. Additionally, I’ve helped prepare food bank meals for 200 (same time frame as the retreat center). Outside of sporadic dinner parties, I didn’t cook for quite a while while I worked as a graphic designer but eventually started taking some classes at the Culinary Institute of Virginia. As part of my externship, I started working for a catering company, helping prepare meals for anywhere between 50 – 1,000 people. I stopped working for them two years ago when I began my marketing job here in Richmond. But, living in such a foodie city has affirmed my culinary passions more and more and more, to the point that I’ve decided to pursue them as a ful-time passion.
Where else can people find your food around the city?
Right now, nowhere! I’ve only done private dinner parties and one pop-up. I’m incredibly excited to do my upcoming pop-up at Sub Rosa. In many ways, it’s a dream come true. My best friends live in Church Hill and are responsible for getting me to spend time in Richmond, starting about 5 years ago. Sub Rosa was one of the first restaurants they took me to. And it was their lamb borek – that was my “ah-ha” moment. That’s when I realized that Richmond’s food scene really has something going for it.
What makes you “happy on the hill”?
So while I don’t actually live in Church Hill (proud Fulton homeowner!), it’s the neighborhood that got me hooked on Richmond. My best friends live there and whenever I visited, it was always the Church Hill restaurants that made me excited to come back. The time of day didn’t matter, we could walk out the front door and within just a few blocks, could find pastries at Sub Rosa for breakfast, lunch at Alamo, or dinner/drinks at The Roosevelt. And wherever we went, we could walk off the meal at a nearby park. For me, Church Hill became my home away from home. And even though I live next door in Fulton, it still maintains that feeling for me, giving me a sense of “getting away” but still being at home.
Do your mouth a favor and check out Brennan’s Thai Pop Up.
Information on tickets can be found here.
All Photo Credits: Tom Barbee