Start with a dash of burlesque, a tablespoon of kink, and a full cup of swingers. Pour everything in a large San Francisco loft; sprinkle with candlelight and plenty of wine. Mix awkwardly for three hours and you've got Our Gourmet Life: San Francisco's infamous “erotic dinner.”
Food and sex often get combined because people are more comfortable with the sensual experience of food than they are with physical intimacy, so they start with food to break the ice. Our Gourmet Life is an elaborate invitation into a community of people who love combining the two.
When I arrived, I was greeted at the door by an enthusiastically naked young woman. She gave me a tour of the spacious loft, which included a room off the dining area with several king-size beds and a lavish stone bathroom featuring a Jacuzzi hot tub that she promised could fit at least 10 people at once. The dining table was set for six and featured a sculpture of a large rooster as the centerpiece. A server told me that if I wanted to touch the chef's cock, I was more than welcome.
The founder and chef of Our Gourmet Life, Chris Hubbard, was busy prepping the five-course feast, but was happy to chat with me while he cut buttery puff pastry into perfect rectangles. Hubbard never went to culinary school; he is entirely self-taught. The erotic dinners started as a hobby but have turned into a side business, though he says it's hardly profitable. The whole endeavor is a labor of love. He also let me in on a little secret: Our Gourmet Life isn't really about the guests' experience; it's about the experience of the servers. The servers are all volunteers — no one gets paid, which I found shocking as a sex worker and a former waitress. Serving food at a formal affair is hard work, and so is taking your top off for a room full of strangers. But the servers volunteering at the dinner seemed excited and titillated by their roles for the evening.
The servers flirted, lightly touching each other and the guests. The first courses were served: a light soup with roasted parsnips, mushrooms, and shrimp followed by an arugula and nectarine salad. The soup was delicate to the point of blandness, but the salad was fresh and perfectly dressed. Highlights of the meal included an hors d'oeurvre of dates stuffed with goat cheese, rolled in panko, and hand-fed to me by a curvy MILF type. A robust Bordeaux accompanied the main course: one of the best steaks I've ever sunk my teeth into. The steak also came with a more-than-generous helping of puns about the chef's “meat.”
As the night wore on, the servers lost more of their clothing and became more aggressive with their advances toward the guests. My date had his shirt repeatedly ripped off over the course of the meal. A server sat on his lap and played with his nipples despite his continual protests.
The dinner ended on a strange note with overly sweet dessert wine, fruit that tasted like canned peaches, and my date telling the server, “No means no. Good touch, bad touch!”
The chef came out from the kitchen and addressed us again. “This is the formal end to the dinner, but you are welcome to stick around and play if you'd like.” His closing speech reminded me of the disclaimer that often comes in the last 15 minutes of an erotic massage: “This is the end of the time that you've paid for, but if you'd like to spend a little personal time together before my next session I'd love for you to stay.”
As I excused myself to the extravagant bathroom one last time, I heard a guest ask a server if it was time to get into the hot tub. On my way back from the bathroom, I saw two of the servers rolling around on one of the giant beds in the dark.
In the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of Our Gourmet Life's website, it is made very clear that this is not a sex or BDSM party and any touching that may happen during the dinner “would happen above the waist.”
But there's no telling what happens at the after-party. I didn't stay to find out.