A Hidden Gem

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Who doesn’t love attending a good dinner party? Any time you mix an interesting group of people with a fabulous meal, conviviality and great conversation are the inevitable—and rewarding—result. No one knows this better than Dennis and Mary Kercher, who have created one of the most unique dining experiences available in Sacramento.

Dennis, a passionate cook, and Mary a talented local artist, have taken their love of hosting dinner parties to a completely new level: They open their home once or twice a month to food-adoring strangers, who pay a suggested $75 “donation” to enjoy a ravishing multicourse meal in the Kercher’s cozy little dining room.

Their intriguing hobby, called The Hidden Kitchen, has become an overnight success. When they first launched the experiment, “I didn’t know if it would work,” says Dennis, who is astounded and gratified by the dining community’s enthusiastic response to their distinctive dinner parties.

Showcasing an exciting array of regionally sourced products, Dennis creates vibrant, seasonally inspired meals that vary with each event. Visitors, who know ahead of time what the menu will be, are encouraged to bring a wine from home to complement their meal. On a recent evening, I was blown away by Dennis’ stunning ravioli “due,” spinach and housemade ricotta ravioli napped with a silky lemon beurre blanc, and a porcini and fontina cheese ravioli, gently doused with a roasted shallot and sage cream. The raviolis were divided on the plate by a multicolored, cleverly braided strand of pasta. Other knockouts included a ratatouille terrine, whose jewel-like layers were so pristine I hated to cut into them, and a moist, perfectly-cooked chunk of black cod (“we got it at Whole Foods, isn’t it gorgeous?” enthused Dennis) deftly encased in a crispy, deeply browned sliced-potato shell. The pièce de résistance, however, was the evening’s dessert, compliments of the Kerchers’ daughter, a pastry chef. We marveled at her playful trompe l’oeil, which looked just like a poached egg on toast, but was actually a slice of grilled anise bread topped with a pristine white circle of lemon pudding topped by a smaller circle of lemon curd. It was a fitting end to a marvelous, creative meal.

If you’re seeking an intimate, very personal dining experience, you’ll find it in spades at The Hidden Kitchen. Events are often booked months in advance, so you’ll need to be patient. Visit www.thehiddenkitchen.com/home.html for details.