Courtesy RVA Pop Kitchens
RVA Pop Kitchens
RVA Pop Kitchens
Dinner at a pop-up is so much fun; it’s like grown-up prom, where everything feels special and exciting because it’s only happening for one night, never to be repeated, and you're (hopefully) there with a super-hot date. And a plate of ice-cold oysters. (Post-party alcohol and hotel room fiascos are left to your own discretion.) McCormack’s Big Whisky Grill executive sous chef TJ Hicks and staff member Dave Murray have colluded to bring a little more pop-up magic to Richmond under the moniker RVA Pop Kitchens, and the first event, “It's a Southern Thing,” is coming up on Thursday, June 18, at Gallery5.
Pop Kitchens got started when Murray invited Hicks to his RVA Pieces chess event at Gallery5, where they took a look around and started riffing on the space’s potential for something food-related.
“We looked at the kitchen and banquet space and things just sort of came together," Hicks remembers. "Right away, we decided that from a marketing standpoint, it would make sense to do a long-term thing rather than a single event. So we decided to create the Pop Kitchens umbrella. If the first event goes well, we’re definitely going to do future events.”
The cheeky menu for the inaugural event looks like they’ll be dishing out fun and flavor in equal parts: there’s “A Play At Liver and Onions,” “Not Your Momma’s Pork n’ Beans,” and “Strawberry, Where’s My Shortcake” to be enjoyed along with drink, and live music by Donny Ray Perry, all for $55 per guest.
“It’s a little kitschy. The play on liver and onions is a sausage made from liver mixed with chicken breast mousseline to make it lighter," says Hicks. "My wife doesn’t even like liver and she tried it and liked it. It’s the kind of dish that’s subtle enough to ease your apprehensions about liver. And then the play on pork and beans, that’s a bean purée with some smoky, molasses-glazed pork belly and pickled tomato relish for some brightness.”
There are also the afore-promised Sewansecott oysters, as well as a chilled sweet corn consommé with smoked clams and a Meadow Creek Dairy raw milk cheese hors d’oeuvre.
Prior to Big Whisky, Hicks earned his culinary badges of honor at Six Burner and Lemaire. “I always loved food and dreamed of owning my own restaurant. I’d be out on the grill for house parties when I was 7 or 8 years old; that’s where it all started,” he laughs.
Despite not owning his own place just yet, his vision is already generous and inclusive: part of the proceeds from “It’s a Southern Thing” will benefit FeedMore, and guests are asked to bring much-needed canned goods to the party.
Find your tickets online now because sales end on Monday night, June 15, and you can’t get them at the door.