Terence Roger’s affinity toward good food came in an unsuspecting place: his dorm room at Bridgewater State.
Tired of the status quo, he began cooking his own meals each evening, looking forward to the process and the end result more and more. It was there his passion for food was born; it’s here, in Somerville, that it’s flourished into a unique and growing business.
“We started by transforming our pool table into a dining room table.”
Rogers is now the owner and operator of TBD Foods, a catering company that hosts intimate farm-to-table dinners twice each month in apartments in the Somerville area. The idea was born when Rogers worked at Highland Kitchen and learned of other “secret dining” groups.
“I thought to myself, ‘I could do this,'” he told me. “That was in April 2014. We started by transforming our pool table into a dining room table and started to host the dinner parties twice a month.”
To date, Rogers has hosted over 30 dinners, feeding more than 200 people and expanding the reach to other apartments than just his own.
“We have our dining room as two tables of six so people at a table may not have known each other at the beginning of the night, but by the end they are exchanging numbers and seem like good friends,” he said. About 60 percent of dinner guests end up coming back for at least one more event. And, said Rogers, “I have a group of four who have come to 12 dinners each so far this year.”
The appeal here is multi-fold. On the one hand, there’s Rogers, a down-to-earth guy who just loves bringing people together around beautiful and creative locally sourced meals. In addition to Highland Kitchen, he’s worked at Bronwyn in Somerville and The Dining Car food truck. It was there, under the watchful eye of chef/owner David Harnik, that he developed his chops. “He was kind enough to give me recipes to work on at home and would stay late with me to make dumplings and bratwurst,” said Rogers.
Also at play is the nature of these dinners, at once exclusive and yet extremely inviting. The numbers for each are capped at 12 – with so many returning customers, getting a spot can be tough. And they offer the carefree experience of a restaurant coupled with the company of people who share a common interest and are happy to chat about it.
Rogers is now turning to Indiegogo to raise funds to buy new equipment and move into a shared space that’s better suited for the growing business. The campaign went live at noon, under the title, “Help TBD Foods Get a Real Kitchen.”
“This will also allow for us to host more dinner parties and events like cooking classes,” he said of the decision to crowdfund the company’s next step, “and to bring on more guest chefs and provide the experience and food people have come to love more often.”
What’s more, if the campaign really pops, he added, he’ll achieve another long-held goal: Opening a food to bring his cuisine to the public seven days a week.