These days, local food blogs cover the minutiae of pop-up dining options out there and all but guarantee that people will wait hours in the rain for something as dubious as day-old bagels flown in from across the country. But before the concept of pop-ups spread like hot butter on $4 toast, there were a small but strong number of underground supper clubs in secret private locations.

SubCulture Dining, established in 2005, is one such example. And while its founder Dissident Chef has since moved to New York, where he recently debuted SCD, he has decided to foster a new breed of talent here in San Francisco with events that swap mysterious locations for a more public form of pop-up. The 50-year-old Dissident (who prefers to keep all faces and identities shrouded, though he’s not hard to unmask) is proud to present three fresh “Ronin Underground Restaurants,” each led by a chef aged 21-28. The new Ronin Consortium consists of SCD Boucherie (which plays with regional American themes), SCD CanVas (refined European ideas with Californian produce), and SCD Fressen (California-German food).

Just don’t go looking for these pop-ups at a dive bar. Atelier Crenn, a high-end Cow Hollow restaurant that boasts a coveted two Michelin stars and describes its food as “poetic culinaria,” plays host to the SCD “Rage Summer Series,” starting with Dissident Chef’s launch event on July 13 and followed by the SCD Ronin Consortium on July 31-August 2. If these wandering samurai are successful despite a high price point ($125 and up), it could push the possibilities of the pop-up scene even further forward.

All images by Tamara Palmer

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