Tiffany Ng ’08 has created a gastronomic niche that is part food, part fashion, part musical theater. Really.
The genesis of what would become Ng’s Silver.Spoon enterprise began when she spent the first six months after graduation writing white papers and delivering talks for the Danish Atlantic Treaty Association. A master’s program (international law, economics, and management) at the Copenhagen Business School followed, and Ng elected to stay in Denmark for another two years.
That summer Ng went home to San Francisco to visit friends and family—and to eat. Dining out is expensive in Denmark and mostly limited to New Nordic and bit of French cuisine. San Francisco, a city of underground restaurants and pop-up shops, offers variety and value, so Ng spent a lot of time “dragging” friends to that event or this.
“At one of the events,” she said, “I was just really impressed with one of the courses. I said, ‘This is exactly what is missing in Copenhagen.’”
She approached the chef (he had prepared 300 covers of New Zealand lamb on two panini presses), salt-and-peppering him with questions about logistics. “And, spur of the moment I said, ‘Would you ever consider cooking in Copenhagen?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, of course.’ It took me like five minutes to decide I was going to start something.”
That first event, under a brand called Silver.Spoon, featured relatively simple Californian cuisine. The event was financially a failure, but Ng was hooked. And she got better at the marketing part. Today Silver.Spoon is the umbrella to three food-culture related brands: StreetCorner Kitchen, Wine & Grub, and Guerilla Dining, her flagship brand.
For Guerilla Dining each event is created by three teams: dining, visuals, and sounds. For instance, patrons might go to a three-course meal that is also a fashion show, with each segment backed by original music. It’s akin to dinner theater where the dinner is the theater.
Ng talks like an M.B.A., referring to synergies and connections. But she’s built a brand known for putting on events on the bleeding edge of creative gastronomy.
“If you just gave my creative side free rein,” she said, “these events would hardly resemble what they end up being when we come down to it. And of course along with the business side comes the legal side. I can’t just shut down Copenhagen’s harbor to put on an event on the water—much as I would like to.”
It is this sense of balance that has led Ng, after her early failures, to success. Silver.Spoon is going international, opening in the United States and expanding in Europe. Ng hopes to complete a law degree someday, but for now she’s looking to franchise, making new contacts, and building her business, creatively.
—Martin Connelly ’08