Going underground with the Skeleton Kroux

by Kari Walker

A mash up of Lafayette's finest chefs livens up late night food

Everyone knows what happens after a night out bar hopping - hunger strikes and on the way home you might swing by a drive-through for tacos, fried chicken or order a pizza for comfort. But why should you settle for subpar food simply because your favorite chefs hung up their aprons for the evening?

Chef Pat Waters of Café Vermilionville and other chefs aim to give you a better option. Thus, the Skeleton Kroux was formed.

"Being in the service industry for 20-plus years and getting off work late at night, it is hard to find good fresh food so I wanted to do something about that void. I talked to a few chefs about the idea of Skeleton Kroux and everyone was on board," says Waters.

So Waters and chefs Justin Girouard, Ryan Wallace and Brettly Wilson of The French Press and Collin Cormier of Viva la Waffle took over the kitchen of The French Press Saturday night to elevate late-night dining.

It was simple planning - the chefs created a menu, invited local restaurant staff friends and planned to cook for whoever showed up. The initial plan may have been to serve just members of the service industry, but it was clear word traveled fast to other people beyond the kitchens and bars of Lafayette about the innovative late-night event as The French Press was a packed house from the moment the doors opened at 11 p.m. Runaway Dish co-founder and food photographer Denny Culbert was on hand in support of the chefs' vision and lent his pop-up dining knowledge to the event from past experiences hosting similar non-traditional restaurant dining.

"We only planned for at least 40 people. But this kind of support is great," says Culbert.

So, what is it about the Skeleton Kroux that made the event such a success? The menu was simple, flavorful and priced for any budget. For $8, guests could get a plate of two steamed bun sliders filled with pork belly, pickled mung beans, fresh jalapeño and cilantro and topped with cucumber crème fraiche or they could opt for something sweet like a strawberry shortcake made of black pepper waffles, strawberry compote and a balsamic whipped cream. When the Skeleton Kroux takes over, don't expect a stiff, snobby dinner party - the energy inside The French Press was just as playful as the dish concepts.

No doubt the Skeleton Kroux will make an appearance and take over another restaurant and kitchen thanks to the overwhelming support of this first event. Where and when will it be? You'll have to keep your eyes and ears open. "All I can say is watch for the event post on Facebook - Skeleton Kroux will be back soon," promises Waters.

Photos by Denny Culbert

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