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Bringing home the bacon

Updated: June 29, 2015 - 8:46 am

One Northeast Minneapolis couple decided to ditch their jobs to host dinner parties at home in a quest to find happiness.

Pan-seared rainbow trout. Fettuccini carbonara with guanciale. Braised lamb shank.

This is what’s on the dinner table of Matt Kappra and Megan Sheridan on a Monday night. But while their guests dig in and enjoy, this husband and wife team is readying the next course.

The two are the minds behind 320 Northeast, a dining experience concept they started this year out of their home in Northeast Minneapolis. Every Monday night Kappra and Sheridan host 10 guests who often don’t know each other or what they’ll be eating at secretive supperclubs.

But 320 Northeast isn’t just a passion. Kappra quit cooking at restaurants and Sheridan left a marketing job to find happiness in food.

“It used to be just work, work, work,” Kappra said. “Now we can take a breath, slow down and evaluate things a lot more. Overall we’re a lot happier than we were six months ago.”

The corporate world got the better of them last August when the two decided to do some soul-searching and find something more fulfilling. That’s when Kappra, who has cooked in kitchens like Barrio, Lucia’s and Butcher & the Boar across Minneapolis, and Sheridan quit full-time work to ultimately start 320 Northeast.

Their meals aren’t your typical dine-in fare. The two source ingredients for their fine-dining menus from farms within driving distance of the city and they use whole animals. Without the financial or business restraints of restaurants, Sheridan and Kappra largely take advantage of excess products from farms.

But they aren’t about to jump on a soapbox to preach on local ingredients. For a talented chef with a wife with celiac disease and allergies, not to mention a love of food, this kind of cooking is natural. 

“We feed ourselves entirely from this place,” Kappra said. “It’s how we’ve always cooked at home, and it just carries over to what we make for people.”

Interested diners can generally expect a five-course dinner menu each with a local drink pairing for $75 per person. Guests must sign up online through 320 Northeast’s website before buying seats, which are limited to 10 — the size of their dinner table — each event.

Much like national dinner party concepts like Dinner Lab, 320 Northeast guests don’t know each other or the menu before breaking bread together. But the dining experience is unique in that diners can escape the restaurant atmosphere and enjoy the pleasures of a home-cooked meal — or their puppy, Luna.

“[Our guests are] people who have no idea who we are, or what they’re signing up for,” Sheridan said. “It’s so fun. It’s totally different every week.”

The two are doing about a half-dozen dinners and events each month, but hope to soon add regular Saturday night tasting menus, Sunday brunches and private events. Sheridan’s sister and brother-in-law, another chef in the family, are also lending a hand to expand the project.

However they expand, the two want to make sure not to find themselves in the same corporate situation they sought to escape.

“It’s this really fluid situation right now,” Kappra said. “It’s a completely independent venture from the two of us. That’s how we would want to continue going forward.”

While the project is a challenge without their regular incomes, Sheridan says they are happy and committed to this next chapter in their lives.

“It’s a story, and you’re a part of the story, and if you’re game for that, it’s going to be a really tasty story.”