Although many of us miss a night out on the town, the pandemic has taught us creative new ways to enjoy being at home. A quick internet search will teach you how to make your own pie crust, list the best shows to binge-watch, and offer you tutorials on everything from at-home haircuts to ballroom dancing. But it can be even more fun to have an expert curate an interesting evening for you. We talk to four local pros offering at-home entertainment options that revolve around two of our favorite activities: eating and drinking.
Private Dinners with Chef Jimmi Sinh
The chef known as Sushi Jimmi learned to cook at his mother’s knee — though he says sushi was not a part of his family’s menu. Jimmi Sinh fell in love with Japanese cuisine at his first restaurant job when he was 18 years old. Today, he has a huge following in Memphis but is planning a move to Florida to test and expand his talent. In the meantime, grab him while you can — Chef Jimmi offers private dinners until the end of June.
A feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds, dinner with Chef Jimmi starts with presentation. “I like to go above and beyond what is expected,” he says. “I educate the guests – what fish I’m using and why, what part of the fish, where it came from, and how to eat it. Is it best in a roll, or sashimi, or nigiri? The next time they are in a sushi restaurant, they will know what to look for and what to ask for.”
The meal may also include exotic fruits, presented beautifully of course, and special touches like fresh wasabi. Chef Jimmi handpicks all his ingredients, sourced from around the world, to create the perfect menu. “I’m really picky!” he says. He’ll have salmon from Scotland and beef from New Zealand shipped overnight for his creations.
He works with his customers to design the perfect private dinner, asking what they like and, equally importantly, what they don’t like. His goal is to create a true sushi experience no one will forget, using his creativity backed by his extensive knowledge of flavor combinations.
To experience a Chef Jimmi private dinner, contact him at (901) 604-0058. Once he’s in Florida, he will be available if you find yourself in Miami — and for a super splurge-worthy experience, he can be flown back to Memphis. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.
The Bar Cart
We wonder how many people have craved a mixologist-quality cocktail throughout the pandemic. Roll in The Bar Cart, bringing hands-on cocktail classes to homes or businesses. The idea is a remedy created by Molly Cunningham and Missy Scruggs, who noticed that people were looking for something fun to do in their safe spaces. In Memphis, participants can share this experience with their social bubble. “We try to keep our events as safe as possible by limiting the number of people allowed to participate, giving everyone their own tools, and requiring masks at all times for our employees,” says Molly.
The Bar Cart provides a merrymaking, engaging experience designed to leave guests more confident in their mixology abilities. The classes feature individual stations equipped with all of the ingredients and tools needed to make three different cocktails. Packages are inspired by the main ingredient — among the tempting choices are champagne, vodka, gin, and whiskey. There’s also a custom mix-and-match option. During a one- to two-hour class, guests learn the history of the spirit, receive an explanation of the utensils, and participate in a step-by-step demonstration to make each cocktail. After each drink is complete, guests mix and mingle as they enjoy their creations.
“We’ve realized that a lot of our clients love a unique take on a classic cocktail,” says Missy. “For example, our margarita called The Rudy is very popular with some spice added to it. We also have a take on a French 75 with pear juice added. We make The Florence at almost every party.” Clients also appreciate a Memphis-made liquor, and The Bar Cart uses local products as much as possible.
The Bar Cart class can be customized in several ways. Clients can pick a theme to be reflected on the menu when Molly and Missy change the names of the cocktails to better fit your celebration. They can also create new drinks based on your favorite spirits and flavors. Personalized cups, napkins, and other special touches may be added as well.
Best Shot Co.
About a year after she began bartending, Best Shot Co. owner Morgan McKinney had a realization. “I looked up and thought — oh, wow. I actually really love this work and want to do more of it,” she says of the bartending job that she had taken out of necessity more than anything else. When the pandemic hit, she was faced with a choice between forging a new path in bartending and leaving her passion behind for a different industry that paid the bills. Fortunately for Memphis, she chose the former and Best Shot Co. was born.
The all-virtual experiences include Pore & Lore cocktail classes and private events. The classes are announced at the beginning of each month via the Best Shot Co. website and social media, and material lists are sent through Morgan’s free mailing list. The hour-long Zoom classes teach guests an even mix of classic cocktails and tasty new drinks created especially by Morgan around a theme. “The classes are all interactive, and there are participants from all over the country and Canada. You can absolutely expect to make new friends,” she says.
For a private event, Morgan can create something special, or you can choose between a pre-selected list of classics. She offers three different class options ranging from 40 to 90 minutes, and she can accommodate groups of up to 100 people.
“My vision for Best Shot Co. has always been about introducing cocktails, wines, and spirits to consumers in the most accessible way possible. I want people to understand why they love a certain spirit and give them the tools to walk into a bar and not feel any intimidation about looking through a menu,” Morgan says.
Book Best Shot Co. through the website, where you can also subscribe to the mailing list to receive material lists and links for classes — plus great information that Morgan curates for free.
Phillip Ashley Chocolates
An award-winning chocolatier, Chef Phillip Ashley Rix founded his Memphis-based brand in 2012. Known for luxurious combinations of delectable flavors, Phillip Ashley Chocolates made the 2020 list of Oprah’s Favorite Things. Of course, 2020 brought changes to us all, and the master of chocolates became a master at pivoting to keep his brand thriving. The result is Virtual Date Nights.
One Friday night a month through the end of the year, participants can enjoy time with Chef Phillip while sampling six curated chocolates, carefully paired with wine or spirits. “When you sign up, you’ll get a conference link and receive a tasting kit,” says Ashley Butler, Phillip Ashley Chocolates’ brand coordinator. “The date night begins with Phillip … he greets guests and talks about his journey, then about the chocolates he’s selected for the evening.” It’s all live and in-the-moment (with nothing pre-recorded), and there’s time at the end for conversation with the chocolatier.
Customization comes from the selection of your Virtual Date Night. Coming up next is the “Signature White Chocolates + Vinho Verde” event on Friday, April 23. If you have a thing for red wine and local culture, the “Taste of Memphis + Red Blend” in May is for you. In the mood for something spicy? The August date night features spicy chocolate paired with tequila. As for planning your date night, book one that sounds tempting to you, purchase a pack or even buy a season pass.
Choose your night and book online HERE.
Staying home has never been so much fun! Enjoy!