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Jul 7, 2009 06:10 PM

Fresh invite to CB

Just got mine, but can't make it because I am out of town. Enjoy to all you lucky folks that make it.

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  1. Got mine too. $170 per person with wine + molecular gastronomy? Not my thing this time around...I'll head to Colborne Lane when I'm ready!

    1. At $170 per person, 'lucky' is not necessarily the word I would use.

      Interesting to note that as recently as February, their manifesto stated:
      "HOW MUCH?
      Total cost of food divided by number of attendees – our goal is to keep it around $60 - $80 per person. "

      32 Replies
      1. re: dxs

        it's creeping up as i've expected....

        also note that they're claiming "again it is a 50% first come first serve basis and a 50% random draw for spots" but as far as my knowledge goes they've always claimed first come first serve.

        i think holes in the plan are starting to surface.

        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          Chances are the chefs are simply trying to impress with increasingly expensive ingredients. Things like replacing generic radishes with super-organic heirloom radishes and expensive mushrooms can quickly drive up food cost.

          1. re: Blueicus

            Before the change of ownership, Splendido's 8 course tasting menu with wine pairing, under the helm of David Lee, was in the same price range. I have had menus that featured high end ingredients such as black truffles, lobster, foie gras, Wagyu beef, squab and wild line caught fish. In CB's case, ingredients featured are way less impressive. Wonder if they forgot to take into account of the current economic climate?!

            1. re: Charles Yu

              a pound of shemiji mushrooms can cost three times more than a pound of lobster, there is more far loss in a product when you try to carve specific shapes (turns, cubes, etc.) from produce than you do when you puree everything or leave the end parts in. A little box (can't be more than 4 or 5 ounces) of micro greens costs 30 dollars. Increasing meat portions by one ounce per course can drive food costs up. I've never attended these meals before, but sometimes there are hidden costs in doing things a particular way that seem innocent at first. Does the meal include tax and gratuity? Or are they included/not considered?

              By the way, what is the menu this month, and how many people attend these things?

              1. re: Blueicus

                But should there be tax involved in this equation? If this is not a business and is a group of people in the industry trying to bring people together for a meal "at cost" (or something close to cost), then why is there any taxing involved? It is like hosting a party and having your guests chip in for food cost.

                1. re: pinkprimp

                  Yes, that is my mistake... there shouldn't be any tax involved and it's not really relevant to the discussion. Hmm... wish the two threads would merge.

              2. re: Charles Yu

                I'm sure they'll be using lots of "caviar."

                1. re: tjr

                  In looking at the menu, it's fairly labour intensive, and presumably will be at least partially prepared offsite, along with 9 wine pairings, which from past posts, are generally free-poured with liberal refills. I don't think this is a high margin event, but certainly wouldn't be the kind of thing where one would be wise to drive one's own car. Maybe that's the recession angle. A grand good time before tightening the belt.

                  1. re: Snarf

                    There are five wine pairings, not nine.

                    Anyway, at that price it's a pass.

              3. re: Blueicus

                i don't want to make any presumptions about the meal menu and chef.

                i will tell you that there were lower cost substitutions at the meal i went to because of "lack of availability" and the most recent one may have attempted to up the ante with the balut but i can't say at all what their costs were in comparison.

                my problem with the creeping up prices is that there was an initial claim that these events would be accessible. that one of the reasons that it would be more reasonable is because you're taking a slight gamble with a sous chef (though they may come from an accomplished kitchen) and that they're given the opportunity to star. it doesn't feel like that anymore. this has become an entirely different event and for some reason they're trying to cling onto their old ideals that don't fit this new modus operandi. i think that they should just be more upfront about it. it's a unqiue opportunity yes, but it is not the one they originally marketed anymore... and we're only what... 6 meals in?!

                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  They can do what ever they want.. it is their club...

                  I think they saw a demand for higher quality, higher price (and probably initially underestimated their costs).. so as long as they fill the dinners and people still line up to attend they could charge $300 per person...

                  I see no problem.. If you don't like it don't attend.. Simple

                  1. re: OnDaGo

                    they absolutely can do whatever they want. what i don't appreciate is how much of my contact info they now have considering that they originally told me their goal was 60-80$ meals.

                    i feel i signed up for one thing and am now being presented another.

                    and i haven't liked the past few menus and had no intention of going.

                  2. re: pinstripeprincess

                    Balut isn't exactly an expensive ingredient.

                    I think what we're forgetting is that CB is about viral marketing and internal promotion, not really about the food. The more controversial it is (like the last one's wagyu fiasco), the more people will want to go and do it, and the more luck they'll have with people ponying up larger sums of money to attend this "underground," "first-come-first-served" event. The money isn't really important, but getting the names of lower-ranking restaurant staff is a big deal, especially with the fragile state of the restaurant industry in Toronto.

                    1. re: tjr

                      i don't expect balut to be expensive, but the spiel given to diners at the dinner was that it was specially imported for just that particular meal... which i think is rather ridiculous!

                      i also don't disagree that there is a strong marketing element to it and that inevitably there will be people willing to pony up the cash for such an experience. considering they only want between 12-30 people at most meals it can't be terribly difficult. i'm just more disappointed that this is the direction its gone after a more promising start.

                      1. re: tjr

                        What do you mean by: "The money isn't really important, but getting the names of lower-ranking restaurant staff is a big deal"

                        It is easy to get the names just go to chefDB.. for CL they list:

                        2008 - Present Shanin Weber Tournant
                        2007 - Present Kyrn Stein Saucier
                        2007 - Present Matt Blondin Sous Chef
                        2007 - Present Andrew Wilson Entremetier
                        2006 - Present Claudio Aprile Executive Chef
                        Co-owner or Partner

                        Or do you mean "PROMOTING the names of lower-ranking restaurant staff is a big deal"?

                        1. re: OnDaGo

                          It should have said "getting the names of lower-ranking restaurant staff out there", which is why I said promotion earlier.

                          1. re: OnDaGo

                            chefDB isn't entirely accurate... remember when people didn't know who Victor Barry was in the Splendido organization?

                        2. re: pinstripeprincess

                          Out of curiosity I sent a new request to be added to the CB list in order to get the latest intro email, and it looks like they've revised their pricing structure. Even so, this latest dinner manages to exceed their upper limit:

                          "HOW MUCH? Total cost of food divided by number of attendees – our goal is to keep it around $75 - $150 per person."

                          It can't be a coincidence that as they've gotten more popular (and surely 'underground' no longer applies) the prices have crept steadily upwards.

                          This is not to say that the experience CB provides is not worth paying for, by all accounts the events have been memorable - but at these prices, they are targeting an ever smaller group of people. Which is fine, as OnDaGo says, it's their party....

                          1. re: dxs

                            As long as they find 30 or so people that have a spare $170 or whatever, the price doesn't matter. And I am sure they will always be able to sell out in a city as large as Toronto. But yes, it does seems to be creeping up there compared to what I originally thought the price range would be. I'm still inerested to eat there again.

                            1. re: dxs

                              all the power to them, but this isn't what i signed up for and it was never made clear to people whom signed up earlier that the price range had changed.

                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                Agreed. I considered asking to be removed from the list, but who knows, maybe future events will be more reasonably priced - it doesn't hurt to keep the door open.

                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                  If you don't like the concept, don't go. I really do not see your problem. as for personal information... all they really have from you is an e-mail address. No big deal, e-mail addresses can be obtained in hundreds of ways. I really don't get all of the negativity surrounding this concept. It's simple economics... matching supply with demand. No one is twisting anyone's arm to attend.

                                  1. re: cynalan

                                    my point which seems to be getting ignored... is that concept has changed from its original premise, which is the one i signed up for.

                                    they have far more than just my email address.

                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                      Why don't you simply ask to be removed from the mailing list?

                                      I'm pretty sure that even the most determined fraudster wouldn't be able to get a credit card in your name armed only with info regarding your favourite restaurants/foodstuffs.

                                      1. re: Non Doctor

                                        Or perhaps pinstripeprincess just values her personal information, and feels that she can't trust CB with it, regardless of what it is. I doubt she's worried about someone stealing her credit card information.

                                        1. re: tjr

                                          I was kidding.

                                          I know that she's way smarter than that.

                                          I have spent waaaaaaaaay too much time on Chowhound today...

                                          Time to get back to the real world.

                                        2. re: Non Doctor

                                          i will be removing myself from the email list.

                                          and i'm not sure if anyone recalls, but one of the requests on the application was for a phone number among a couple other details. i really struggled with giving it to them and naively didn't seriously consider a fake. yes this might be a bit melodramatic, but it really does bother me.

                                          i guess i know who they are and i can be comforted by that.

                                        3. re: pinstripeprincess

                                          i get it, pinstripeprincess, i just haven't felt like piping into the debate:) i totally agree with you - i signed up because it seems like an interesting idea to bring an unusual yet accessible food experience by reducing the usual restaurant costs and showcasing the secondary people in well known kitchens. that accessibility has clearly been eliminated. the events may still be interesting, i don't know. but they are quite different now they than were initially advertised as. while the premise was always somewhat elitist (let's just read back the last event's thread and the excitability of all those who somehow 'made it' and the corresponding disappoinment of those who didn't get in - hell of a way to make people feel 'special', no?), it is now elitist in a different way. no doubt there are many who can afford a $170 meal. but many more cannot or would rather not, including many who ended up signing up because of the initial promise of accessible exciting food experience. i think it is fair to criticize this change from this perspective, regardless of the fact that CB 'can do whatever it wants' and that 'if one doesn't like it, one doesn't have to go.' (these are non-starters that can apply to all the places we discuss on this board).

                                          1. re: Kasia

                                            thanks so much for your words, you couldn't have put it better.

                                            1. re: Kasia

                                              I really do not get all of this debate about the change to Charlie Burger's events. Absolutely the premise seems to have changed. Sure it's disappointing that the cost point has increase. However, last time I looked, CB was not a public service agency. It is a private enterprise that is responding to market forces. As an entrepreneur, if demand allows me to sell out my product, why wouldn't I increase prices until some form of equilibrium between supply and demand is reached. Folks- they're simply not here to do you a favour.

                                              1. re: cynalan

                                                i'm sorry, but there was a debate? as far as i could tell it was just people telling me to suck it up when i pointed out that their original premise doesn't apply anymore.

                                                i don't believe i've actually complained really but just pointed out that i wasn't surprised this was happening and disappointment (as you have noted yourself) that it has happened. everyone else seems to assume that i'm decrying the entire thing. from what i can tell i'm one of the few on these threads that has actually been to an event. i'm not guessing, surmising, whatever anything. i know what they are and am just providing an opinion based on that.

                                                1. re: cynalan

                                                  well, that's not exactly a relevant analogy - as far as i understand, this is not a profit making enterprise, right, or at least it's a for-profit event that's supposed to reduce overhead costs and therefore making it more affordable? the point of this is not to make as much money as possible, is it? at least not according to CB's own marketing of the event. further, all the 'decrying' of the increase of price point seems to suggest that there is quite a lot of 'demand' for the kind of event that was initially promised and 'supplied'. i really hate the continuous application of the abstract notion of the market - this recession clearly has shown us there is no invisible hand, but actual people making decisions. just like CB people make decisions on who they want to attract as potential clients, how much money they want to make if any, and plan their meals accordingly. even if this was to be a for-profit event, there is no reason that the prices MUST go up. there are plenty of restaurants making money in the low and mid-range price point (in fact, these are the ones that aren't struggling). CB has decided to make this into a much higher-end event than it initially planned. Some of us are curious about reasons for the change, some are disappointed that they'll not be able to attend given the new price range, and some may even be offended that yet again exciting or adventurous food experiences are limited to those with a thick wallet.

                              2. Meal looks amazing but alas.. I don't have 170 dollars to spend *cry*

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