An intriguing new event is coming to the Bay Area next month. Eat My Heart Out Supper Club is a storytelling dinner theater that pairs specially created food courses with personal stories told live. The event has thus far only been held in New York, but with director Eugene Ashton-Gonzalez's relocation to his hometown of Berkeley, the first Bay Area event will be held in the Mission on Feb. 23 — and the team is actively seeking submissions from would-be storytellers.
Ashton-Gonzalez told us that he fittingly plans to unveil the secret story of how he was inspired to pair food and personal stories together at the show itself, but the short version is this: He grew up in Berkeley surrounded by a rich food culture, spent some years in New York after college involved in various gigs, and finally found dinner theater. "It was my love of stories (regardless of medium) that led me to start running storytelling shows and designing alternative kinds of theater experiences," he says. " I've been very lucky to get Eat My Heart Out up and running out here with the help of Mike Davidson, creator of the Behind the Cart underground dinners."
For the event, the Eat My Heart Out Crew is looking for personal stories, similar to those produced by This American Life or The Moth, a maximum of 10 minutes long in performance. Once the stories are selected, Ashton-Gonzalez and his culinary team will work on the dishes that pair with them. The stories don't need to have a food focus, but Ashton-Gonzalez offers a tip: "Stories that feature a lot of rich sensory details (sights, smells, places, etc.) are often good."
The food pairings themselves can be both metaphorical or literal. At the Brooklyn shows, a story about a pet rabbit was paired with a carrot and escarole salad; a tale of Canadian immigration misadventures was paired with sweet potato poutine; and a saga about studying abroad in Spain and getting a tattoo was paired with an olive oil cake. Small elements from the stories serve as inside jokes — for example, an aside about yerba mate in the tattoo story got a big laugh, and the olive oil cake served with it featured yerba mate as one of its main ingredients.
Submit your story via the Google doc on the dinner theater's Facebook page. To have the opportunity to tell your story at the Feb. 23 event, your submission must be in no later than Jan. 25. Tickets aren't on sale yet, but sign up for early invitations by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eat My Heart Out Supper Club, facebook.com/EatMyHeartOutSupperClub.