Good meals can be hard to come by in school, but some at Columbia University have to look no further than down the hall.
Since September, Jonah Reider, a Columbia senior and chef, has been running Pith, a supper club he hosts in his dorm, a suite complete with a kitchen.
“It’s an eating experience, a social experience, a supper club,” Reider tells USA TODAY College.
Because Pith can’t legally profit from his venture, he asks only that guests reimburse him for the cost of the ingredients, which he says average $15 a person. His elaborate meals go on for many courses, and dishes have included beets with orange pepper shavings, mahi mahi with lime and peppers, seared scallops, and roasted celery root soup.
His guests leave sated — and he’s killing it on Yelp.
Pith is “undeniably the best value meal in the city,” raves one of the club’s 5-star reviews on Yelp.
“Pith is a dining experience like none other in New York,” another reviewer wrote. “(Reider) goes to great lengths to tailor and diversify the courses to your liking, and really makes you feel at home. The attention paid to detail on behalf of the chef is tremendous, and it is very clear he has a specific vision for your dining experience in a way that will push you out of your comfort zone.”
The club started, Reider says, after he’d been cooking a lot for close friends who suggested he invite others for dinner. Now, students, and professionals — the mix, he says, includes doctors, lawyers, bankers, magazine editors and Columbia administrators — join him for dinner one to four evenings a week, depending on his availability.
He takes online reservations, but keep this in mind: Reider says he has a wait list of some 750 people.
“I expected students to be interested in it, but not this excited and eager to join in,” Reider says.
For now, though, Pith’s future is uncertain.
“I’m looking into how to bring this idea into spaces that are more permanent and sustainable than a dorm room,” he says, “without destroying the very things — quirkiness, intimacy, great food — that make it so appealing.”