Table, Donkey and Stick Announces First Competition Pop-Ups For November 5 and 8

Scott Manley (left) with Paul Virant at a Blackbird dinner in 2008.
Scott Manley (left) with Paul Virant at a Blackbird dinner in 2008. Photo: Sky Full of Bacon

And we have our first contestants! Table, Donkey and Stick, the “Alpine inn” concept that is planned for the Bonsoirée space (2728 W. Armitage) by chef Shin Thompson and partner Matt Sussman, has announced the first two chefs to compete in its series of pop-up dinners to pick the chef for the concept— and it’s the battle of the Blackbird vets! The first one has the home court advantage: he’s Jon Keeley, former sous chef at Bonsoirée, whose background also includes experience at Blackbird and at James Beard Award winner Ken Oringer’s Toro, in Boston. His pop-up will be on Monday, November 5. But that’s not to discount the next challenger, whose credentials for running a restaurant based on charcuterie and whole animal cooking are pretty unimpeachable: he’s Scott Manley, a longtime veteran of Paul Virant’s Vie and Perennial Virant as well as Blackbird, who most recently spent several months as one of the collaborating chefs at EL Ideas. His pop-up will be Thursday, November 8.

More competitors will be announced in coming days, but for now, you can get reservations, which as promised are at a downright cheap price ($15 per person, plus drinks for purchase) with part of that going to charity, here. Diners will be asked to fill out comment cards to aid in judging the chefs; the official criteria for the competition are listed below:

Each chef has total freedom to execute their tastings within the following constraints:

• Dinners must include a bread service with rillettes

• The tasting menu must include at least three courses, not including bread service

• The menu must in some way reflect the culinary traditions of the Alps

• The ingredients used by the chefs must cost no more than $750, not including staples that will be available in the kitchen

• Chefs will have all day to prepare for service and the opportunity to do advance preparation on one day off the same week

• Chefs may bring one assistant cook on the day of service, who will be compensated

• Chef Shin Thompson will serve as sous chef

Previously: Shin Thompson Announces Alpine Inn-spired Table, Donkey and Stick— And Cool Pop-Up Plan To Pick Chef