During the earlier years of Dining Out with Rob Balon.com, I used to go out regularly for dinner with three of my guys friends: Auggie Garrido, Mike Konderla, and Hugh Lewis.
One night on about our third bottle of Caymus Special Selection, one of us came up with the idea that our little group should have a name. I think it was Mike who suggested it. Being the huge Hunter S. Thompson fan that I was and still am, I immediately blurted out “The Gonzo Gourmet Club,” Thompson’s style of writing was known as Gonzo journalism.
There was no further debate. The guys all liked it and that was that. End of story…well almost.
Kondo and I were having lunch one day, not long after I had launched Dining Out with Rob Balon.com. “You know,” he said thoughtfully, “The Gonzo Gourmet Club would be a great name for a larger group. You could host it on your website.”
Wow. Lightning flash. I immediately loved the idea.
And so the second, larger gonzo club was born. There were criteria for members, however.
1. No eating at restaurants where the chairs have wheels.
2. Must have a great love and appreciation for wine.
3. Must have eclectic tastes in cuisine.
4. Must have a well-developed palate.
5. Must be a serious foodie.
There was no snobbishness or pretense about any of this at all. The gonzos were a fun, down-to-earth group who had cultivated a love for fine food and the grape. It was that simple.
The invitation to join the club was posted on www.diningoutwithrobbalon.com and from a small start at the long-gone downtown Gumbos we grew to around 400 like-minded members. We would do wine dinners every other month or so that ranged from 40-80 [depending on space]. I would meet with the chef and discuss the menus and wine pairings. Most of the dinners were a blast and we enjoyed great cuisine along with terrific wine pairings. The Gonzo Gourmet Club had about an 8-year run until the duties of setting up and hosting these dinners began to wear on yours truly. But many of our original members formed splinter groups and still get together today.,
However, I’m pleased to announce that we are ready to relaunch the Gonzo Gourmet Club. Austin is a different food city today and there are many new restaurants to try. The new membership process will be streamlined and easier for all involved, especially me. So this goes out to all our old members who’d like to reinvent what we had and to new members who’d like to join in on the fun. There are Gonzo sign-ins on our website. Just type in your email and hit enter, and we’ll be in touch.