Thanks to “Sam” for the following story from the Seattle PI.
STRANGELY, A STRIKING new addition to Seattle’s restaurant scene is going to be a non-restaurant.
Vagabond, a regular communal dinner venue “opening” Oct. 23, is a joint venture between Gabriel Claycamp of the Culinary Communion cooking classes and Michael Hebberoy, formerly a partner in a shining-star restaurant empire in Portland that once included restaurants clarklewis, Gotham Bldg Tavern and Family Supper…
Vagabond sounds like a legal, larger version of the underground dinners that exist here and there in the Seattle area. These are intimate events at which chefs cook for paying guests in a private setting. Vagabond will consist of three-course, family-style meals, served Monday nights at Portalis wine shop in Ballard (5205 Ballard Ave. N.W.). (The concept is similar to Hebberoy’s original unlicensed Family Supper in Portland, with a top-notch wine selection thanks to the Portalis stock.)
Claycamp, who has been associated with other underground dinners in Seattle, said he and Hebberoy occasionally will trade off cooking and handling the front of the house, but that a roster of gifted guest chefs will also take part. Dana Bickford, pastry chef at Eva, has committed to creating innovative pies and ice creams for regular desserts, he said. Main courses will be served in big cast-iron pots, and chefs will be charged with creating “the sexiest peasant food” possible in one cauldron.
Vagabond isn’t open to everyone. No walk-ins are allowed. Advance reservations and e-mail contacts are required, meant “to keep it kind of pure, to keep it to the people who get it,” Claycamp said. “With every restaurant, there are some people that get it and some people who are there as tourists. I think both Michael and I are pretty resoundingly not interested (in the latter).”
They must want more people to get it, though, as the larger goal is to spread more underground restaurants around town and “destabilize the system.”
Michael Cooking? Oh my. Courses served in big cast-iron pots? Chefs charged with creating the sexiest peasant food possible in one cauldron? You know, this almost sounds like an April fools joke. Go figure. You can read the whole article by clicking here.
Considered some pithy and sensible responses to the reheated, hot-airy nature of this venture, but their transparency made me tired, and sort of sad.
I know, it’s not easy to open a place; I know, one needs traction. But how do you maintain you are out to “destabilize the system” and then use the popular press as your vehicle of destabilization?
I am currently writing about a truly innovative restaurant, and jotted in my notes, “DIY and high-concept constitute a certain attraction, but it’s often evanscent, and juvenile. The cousin of being truly innovative.”
It’s not enough to say it; you gotta do it, day after day. I wish them well, and wish they’d do it on the QT.
It strikes me as sort of a reverse snobbery- ‘the people who ‘get it’ etc. Let’s play at being peasants, but keep it exclusive.The new film about Marie Antoinette’s getting a lot of press. Must be a trend.
Mary Sue says
If I wanted old men to cook peasant food for me in cast iron pots and serve it at long, packed tables, I’d go to more family reunions.
Sent along a note to the L.A.-north-wannabe reporter last night wishing them well on their pick up of our sloppy seconds.
Also asked that any picture of The Hebb actually cooking be sent along for entertainment value.
Have not received a response nor am I holding my breath for one.
Emily James says
Deja vu, anyone? Hope it works out better for everyone this time. The article was painful for me to read–I can only imagine what people who were actually involved in the Ripe-GBT-clarklewis-ClarkLewis-cLaRkLeWiS empire think. Yikes.
Cuisine Bonne Femme says
When I was a teenager we used to cook outside in cast iron pots. It was sometimes served by sexy older teenage camp counselors.
Is that what Ripe, er I mean Michael, er sratch that, Vagabond meant by sexy?
They should just call their new restaurant HYPE or TIRED and be done with it. The whole super secret, “you are special because you get it, and because you get it we will allow you to dine here,” and “isn’t open to everyone” concept and marketing ploy is stale and sad at this point.
Can anyone spell g-r-i-f-t-e-r?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the big problem was that GBT had too few seats for how much they spent on the place, right? imo, it definitely wasn’t the quality of the food, especially before they changed the menu. And Ripe did well enough that they were able to overextend themselves with two restaurants, correct?
So while hype and pretension may precede this place, the concept doesn’t seem flawed. In fact, the supper club idea seems smart. It’s like catering that brings the people to you. You know your numbers and food costs ahead of time. It’s essentially what Simpatica is succeeding with every Friday and Saturday night. It’s what Ken does once a month at Ken’s Place. It’s the same concept behind all these wine dinners around town. Plus, they get to lower their labor costs by serving family style.
Lastly, I would think the people who backed GBT would be hoping that MH would succeed so maybe they could get some of their money. I believe he made personal guarantees, so his success could be their success (or at least their less failure?)
I think people let their disdain for his marketing tactics cloud their judgment and always have. I think the substantial question here is whether MH should be doing the cooking.
Emily James says
I don’t have any disdain for the supper club idea, just the idea that only a certain type of person “gets it” and therefore is somehow allowed to go where someone else is not–i.e., a non hipster type. I liked Ripe a lot–it was all the non-food hype that got to me. Which seems to be his specialty–not the actual food/cooking.
Food Dude says
I (gasp) pretty much agree with MSG on this one… except their concept this time seems seriously flawed. It’s just a step away from crock pot cooking.
On the other hand, he’s not exactly a good businessman. At ripe, he couldn’t help but make money. All costs were easily controlled, yet they closed it immediately. Why wasn’t it a cash cow? From what I’ve heard, the rental contract he signed was totally outrageous. As for GBT, the amont of seating per square foot one should have for a restaurant is a clearly defined formula, available to anyone who bothers to look it up. That entire debacle was just stupid.
“Main courses will be served in big cast-iron pots… With every restaurant, there are some people that get it and some people who are there as tourists.”
THIS WILL BE THE GREATEST TRUCK STOP RESTAURANT EVER!!! THANKS MICHAEL!!!!! U RAWK!!!! 10-4 GOOD BUDDY!!!
I’ve spent my entire adult life working exclusively in the food and wine business. One of the very first things you better learn, if you ever want to be good at what you do, is humility. The world is too big, and too many have paved the way with centuries of experience. Who do you think you are, really? Good for Micheal, I guess, that he found some puppet screwtop (this Gabriel dude) that would say the offensive stuff for him. Way to work it.
In the meantime, let’s just be good at what we do. The rest will follow.
What Chambolle said.
from the seattle weekly…
Fresh from Portland, Michael Hebberoy (part of the recently split husband and wife team behind the nationally-known restaurant company ripe) has teamed up with Gypsy Dinners. Vagabond is the partnership’s moniker. Continuing Hebberoy’s explorations into the way we think about food culture, Vagabond will serve communal three-course meals, with the main course dished up in a big cast-iron pot.
The idea is to go out to dinner, eat and drink with perfect strangers, and come away with new friends. It’s $35; tax, tip, wine, and dessert are extra. On Mondays beginning October 23, Ballard’s Portalis Wine Bar will host these underground family-style dinners where guest chefs will make “the sexiest peasant food in one pot.”
The kicker: you can’t just show up at one of these gypsy dinners, you have to fill out an application. They want to know what you will bring to the table. One of the application questions: “What makes you cool enough to join?”
Food Dude says
Gee, I suppose that will leave food critics out ;)
If you haven’t seen, yet:
Food Dude says
I'm just a Bill says
Chambolle – You said it. They think they’re sooo revolutionary, when they are really just sooooo bourgeoisie. Just like all the stupid emo kids who don’t seem to realize everything they think is so cool is just a rip off of Iggy Pop and the New York Dolls.
Thanks for that link extraMSG, I laughed my ass off.
Would someone forward this link to Karen Brooks, Please?!
This is very funny! And real.
It’s about time someone eloquent writes about it! Bravo.
it will be a matter of time before he screws his new partners over
I am sure…
a new group of investors…another bail on almost a million bucks.
i guess if you’ve grown up a spoiled rich kid then the pompous comes easily.
remember you heard it here first.
Who on earth is the new sucker?……another spoiled rich kid?
kim @ apizza
Ifeel sorry for seattle…
A Friend says
I started looking at this site every once in a while after the whole Ripe debacle. I was interested in hearing what the “Portland food community” had to say on the matter. I have to tell you that the subsequent flood of juvenile correspondence – which hasn’t seemed to have abated in the least – is really disappointing. It strikes me as a sure sign that the so-called Portland food Renascence will not last, as it is not based on insight and love, but on fame, ego-gain, and small change for many of you within this forum.
I can’t believe that I’ve come back to the site, months later, and have found you all still trying to pull someone down. How about focusing on good food, and an innovative and transportive dining experience, rather than stupid, petty snipes on this insiders website.
Restaurants, of all economic brackets (from the amazing mobile carts like Sister’s and Taqueria Lindo Michocan, to Paley’s and clarklewis, and so much inbetween), can create an unparalleled amount of discourse, hospitality, and leveling within disparate communities if managed with open, innovative, intellegent, and progressive concepts at heart. None of you seem to be striving for the higher goal of dining.
Apparently friendship blinds some folks to the difference between artistry and scam artistry.
A Friend, perhaps you should take some time and actually read through the hundreds of chains on this site. Rest assured you’ll find passionate, well thought-out, and progressive opinions on great (and not so great)food, wine and life in general. Your vitriol from reviewing one topic is a bit short sighted, unnecessary and frankly, inanely hypocritical. Methinks, there is someone else that should be seeking “a life”.
Dear “A Friend”:
You must not have been among the multitudes of investors, employees and patrons (and those close to them) betrayed by the cut-and-run cowardice exhibited by Michael Hebb. Othewise, you wouldn’t try to pull the “dad” act and preach to others that their supposedly juvenile response to Hebb’s dog-and-pony show was somehow inappropriate. Lots of people put their faith and livelihoods in his hands, and he burned them–bad. And he has never shown any regret. Instead, he’s taken his act on the road where the next flock of pigeons are eating it up, so to speak.
You also begin to sound like a Hebb toady–if not the boy wonder himself–when you suggest that the local response “was not based on insight and love.” What is that supposed to mean? Should the Portland food community have applauded when Nero fled to Mexico as his empire burned? Isn’t it reasonable now to protest Round II North of the hype and bullshit machine.
Another thing: restaurants are restaurants. While there may be some who want “discourse, hospitality and leveling within their disparate communities,” my experience leads me to believe that the vast majority want a good meal, with attentive service at a fair price in comfortable surroundings. Nothing more, nothing less.
BTW, “A Friend,” score yourself a dictionary. It’s bad form to misspell big words when you are excoriating the children. It’s “Renaissance” and “intelligent.”
I am sorely tempted to toss in a few expletives at this point, but I will not lest I be painted as just another wayward juvenile.
Check in again any time.
to A friend-
you call it juvenile correspondence, well don’t you think it’s a little juvenile for someone to bail on over 50 employees and 3 establishments, not to mention all the money involved? Did you even have anything to do with this? Probably not. Maybe you should think before you type. It’s pretty ignorant for you to comment on this and not think of all the employees and investors that lost their jobs, paychecks and money.
People need to vent and talk about things- I am glad your life is great and you can comment on things that don’t involve you!
Some of us love what we do, so it hurts when something like this happens!
We are striving to better dining in portland that’s why it hurts!
who are you to tell us to grow up
Food Dude says
You know, I almost fired back here myself. Then I thought, our readers will do it, and much more eloquently than I can. I was right.
To honor you all, here’s a new Hebbory link that I’ve restrained myself from pointing out. It has everything you’ve ever wanted… Michael Stadler, Gore Vidal, and (gasp) Madonna’s Sister! Enjoy
Thanks for the link and the seriously good laugh, FD, that was too freakin’ funny.
And yeah, I didn’t take the bait either, but I knew others would. Good job, guys.
A Friend…indeed… :oP
A Friend says
All of you just re-read your posts in a few years. Reflect on them and consider if any of it was worth it.
There are most likely much better things for all of you to do with your time than deride someone on a website. Deride him in public if it means so much to you – why do it, for all intents and purposes, behind closed doors?
This will be my last response. Now you can all go write disparaging things about me.
(Ps. And I was a patron – often. And I still am. I think Naomi is a wonderful person. Except for this one post on your site I have no desire to take sides in something that has nothing to do with me.)
Food Dude says
Naomi? I can’t believe you are dragging her into this. No one has even mentioned her, but I think she has garnered a fair amount of respect, by staying in town and facing the fire. How you can still be a patron is beyond me, since Ripe and GBT have been closed for some time. No one is putting down CL, heck, I think we are all very supportive of it (more than the chairs support us, I might add). Naomi and other CL employees post here too.
This is what happens when someone skims a thread and jumps to conclusions. It is you, sir, who needs to go back and re-read the posts. However, I must thank you for breathing new life into this sputtering flame. Otherwise, I’m sure it would have died by now.
Finally, no, I don’t have anything better to do. I’m waiting for my chance to pillage, so I can travel the country and promote a book that will never be published, hobnob with has-been celebrities, and get my name in the paper as much as possible.
A revolutionary minus the accountability is just a rebel.
you know just the other day we were standing around the kitchen before service discussing the source of cultural disconnect in American cuisine. How is it that this nation comprised of so many varied ethnic, and cultural groups, which still maintain oasis of true cuisine (by true cuisine I mean food that has developed over centuries due to economic, geographic, and political influences, out of necessity). How is it that the vast majority of our population has cast this culinary tradition aside for convenience and affordability of mass produced, homoginized foodstuffs. When did we lose our gastronomic soul. After several minutes of discussing the rise of affordable refrigeration in the 30’s and the post World War II move toward suburbanization we realized there was only one person who could clearly and succinctly elucidate this issue for us. That person of course is Madonna’s Sister. I think we can all agree that no one, except maybe Madonna herself, has such a clear understanding of the cultural evolution of this country and the importance of regaining our culinary roots as Maddona’s Sister. I’m excited to see what this collaboration between Micheal Hebb and Maddona’s Sister will bring. Hopefully this phenomena will spread like wildfire and other Gastronomic and Literary geniuses like Christina Aguileras sister, and Bill Murrays not funny brother (you know the guy from Moving Violations) will get involved. I hope one day to see a grand new world view on food and the restaurant thanks to the pioneering efforts of Maddona’s Sister and the Hebb.
Michael Charles says
I think we can all agree that no one, except maybe Madonna herself, has such a clear understanding of the cultural evolution of this country and the importance of regaining our culinary roots as Maddona’s Sister.
Brilliant. Sparkling. So very true.
Food Dude says
Vapid 1: that was really good!
vapid1 – Excellent. Except there is a new ending…. after hebby goes to Cuba to cook for Fidel, he is arrested and victimized by the feds for ignoring some stupid travel restriction that forbids US citizens from going to Cuba.
maybe he should be compared to meatloaf.
i’ll wait for the reunion tour. not.
Don’t be insulting Meatloaf now… ;o)
Food Dude says
I love Meatloaf. Especially with a good tomato sauce. ;)
I love Meatloaf on a motorcycle, then served with a chainsaw.