Meal-sharing website EatWith opens a test kitchen in SoMa


If you think you can tell the difference between a pop-up, an underground dinner and meal sharing, wait a few months, and the distinctions may evolve.

EatWith, a San Francisco-based meal sharing site, offers members access to dinners cooked in private homes. (The Chron wrote about meal sharing a few months ago.) In the Bay Area, EatWith’s dinners are well curated but not as numerous or varied as the events that take place in Tel Aviv, where the company originated, and Barcelona, the city it first branched out to.

When I interviewed the founder of EatWith for the story, he described attending meals in Spain so elaborate — one involved multiple octopus courses, slide shows and erotic dance — they could be more accurately described as performances.

This week, EatWith has taken steps to diversify its San Francisco events and attract more professional talent. It has unveiled a “test kitchen” in its offices near AT&T Park — a space with a eye-opening view and a table for 24 — with a pop-up of sorts. Or maybe it’s an underground dinner.

Jonnatan Leiva, a 2008 Chronicle Rising Star Chef, will be holding a series of three-course dinners at the Test Kitchen on February 27, March 4 and March 12. As with other EatWith meals, the $97 suggested donation covers tax, tip and beverages, and is only open to people who sign up with the website and provide a modicum of personal details.

Leiva’s dinners will be a preview of sort for his forthcoming restaurant, Bay Cuisine and Cocktails. While he isn’t publishing a specific menu yet, he listed a few sample dishes, including lamb tartare with green olives, horseradish and pinenuts; Sonoma duck with turnips, mustard greens and cardamom; and suckling pig with kumquat mostardo, natural juices and family-style sides.

EatWith has also partnered with La Cocina to host a series of dinners with incubator participants. First up: El Buen Comer’s Isabel Caudillo, who is cooking a $40 dinner on Tues., Feb. 24, centered around Mexico City-style salsa verde with pork or squash.

“There are so many amazing and talented chefs out there who would love to explore new concepts, but need a great space and flexible setting to do so,” says EatWith communication director Naama Shefi of the new series. Pop-up venue Naked Kitchen may have a new rival.