The dinner group was started in 2006 after a conversation with a friend, Kathryn Schurch. Kathryn and her husband Ted lived in Chicago while Ted, was in seminary. They started Epicurean Travels, Ltd. (ET, Ltd.) as a way for fellow seminarians who were from all over the country to experience and enjoy all that Chicago had to offer food-wise while they were there. On a monthly basis over a two-year period, they had as many as 50 folks explore the many cheap, but good ethic restaurants in the greater Chicago area. She spoke with such affection of those times the thought occurred to me, "Why not Memphis?"

Kathryn and her husband Ted Schuch

The Exotic Epicurean Dinner Group, or EEDG as it was more commonly known, started as a few friends gathering once a month after work. As friends invited friends, it quickly grew to include several hundred members. Initially, the idea behind EEDG was to only eat at ethnic restaurants. The tasting menu was introduced as a way to get people to try things that they wouldn't normally try, or know to try. 

One of my favorite stories of the dinner group is from a gathering at Lobster King, the now defunct Chinese restaurant on Cleveland next door to the Asian Market. Everyone at our table was marveling at the wonderful calimari on the platter of appetizers. The waiter returned to each table to explain what we were eating. The calamari that everyone had been raving about turned out to be chicken feet. Needless to say, it went untouched the rest of the meal. It was tasty, but still chicken feet.

Originally, most of the membership had ties to the architectural world as I was working in that field. In 2007, better known as the great architect exodus, I along with many of my friends, were let go from our jobs. The dinner group fell victim to the lack of funds of many of its members.

slingin some dogs

A yearlong stint as the hot dog vendor on Union and Main, @mainsthoundogs if you followed me on twitter, made me appreciate the entrepreneurs who face the risks associated with starting a restaurant, as well as remember how much food can influence relationships in our lives.

A "What the heck? I really enjoyed doing that!" moment got the dinner group back up off the mat. With a new group comes new goals. We had always eaten at locally owned mom and pop restaurants, we wanted to dedicate this new venture to helping others, as well as be fun for the members.

With that in mind we established a few ideas for the group.

Promote locally owned restaurants whenever we can.

Promote unity in Memphis by having people of all colors, backgrounds, religious beliefs, and orientations welcome at our communal dinner table. Memphians and visitors to Memphis are all welcome.

Promote local charities whenever possible.                                                                  
Habitat for Hope provides loving support for families who come to Memphis b/c their children are battling life threatening diseases. We want to sponsor a family each month to join us and just enjoy a good meal and time escaping the real reason why they are in Memphis.

Mid-South Food Bank Canned food items will be gladly accepted at each gathering and donated in foodiememphis' name 

Church Health Center provides medical services to many in Memphis with limited access medical care. We want to raise funds and awareness for the organization whenever and however we can.

Always have a good time and a wonderful meal. If you are interested in joining us, feel free. Check us out on facebook or twitter.