Secret Supper: Inside Industry City
By Niree Noel
Along a quiet stretch of waterfront in South Brooklyn lies a small, almost self-contained metropolis known as Industry City. Formerly a manufacturing center, the site’s vacant warehouses have undergone a major overhaul since 2013, now housing businesses, coworking spaces, food halls, and artful courtyards open to all. The last building in the row Building 8, is a long, echoing space with cement columns and crumbling walls. AKA, the perfect undiscovered spot, on the brink of development, for our Secret Supper in August.
To take the space from raw to resplendent, we brought in the styling talents of one of our very first guests, Kelsea Olivia of East Olivia Creative. Kelsea is also on the Anthropologie NYC team with Leah Pivnick; together they created a whimsical tablescape with oversized dice and rotary phones, and a retro photo booth that can only be described as a scene from our boomerang dreams. After we led our chic boheme crowd up a creaking freight elevator to the lofted balcony overlooking the candle-lit tables, we served them cocktails and watched as they indulged in impromptu photoshoots. As we served small bites up top, below, Chef Susan Kim was busy recreating dishes she makes for herself at home, such as a flavorful salmon belly bibimbap and a fun-to-assemble taco party platter.
But before guests took their seats at the long tables set with candelabras, we had a special performance in store. Off to the right of the vast, empty space, a crescent moon of candles encircled an eclectic assortment of dormant props, including a mannequin hand. Amy and Patrick led guests down the iron stairs and to this semicircle where they welcomed performance artist Sean Blue who would be performing his signature strip juggling act. (“Strip juggling?!” Sam, our photographer, remarked when we gave him the rundown earlier. “You know my camera is really high-res, right?”) Dressed in a suit, Sean stood in the center. Then, he started juggling. Sean accomplished magnificent feats of keeping balls and other objects, like creepy mannequin hands, in the air. Then, at the end, he surprised the crowd by hurling a distraction through their midst, all while pulling off his last piece of clothing and taking a modest bow.
With appetites whetted, the dinner party really got started. Unbeknownst to guests, however, many of their dining companions were also part of a musical flash mob. At mid-meal, when Amy stood on a chair for a ukulele serenade, seemingly random guests also stood on their chairs, joining her in song. This moment of astonishment resulted in pure delight; the melody gave way to a more vibrant energy in the room as guests and performers engaged on a deeper level about creativity, art, and what it means to come together at a communal table. At the end of the meal, Susan came out from behind her chef’s counter and was greeted with a rousing standing ovation, and while it was dark inside, we could see her graciously blushing in the candlelight flicker. The excitement of the evening built and built, from the mysterious entry to the surprising performance to the stunning meal, ending on such a fantastically celebratory note, we only got guests to leave by promising we’d do it all over again, next time.