Origin Story

One night in the middle of August 2014 I got home from a ten day retreat and was wondering what’s next in life and an hour later during dinner my roommate Eva said, “You should put on a restaurant in our backyard.” The idea scared me enough that I knew she was onto something and here we are.

I didn’t know what Eva’s vision was but I put up an Eventbrite page and people signed up and I started cooking, and just like she saw possibility in me, she saw possibility in other places. We visited thrift stores and I would hold up a plate and say “This one?” and she would make a face. “How about this one?” holding up something that seemed exactly the same but different. “Yes!” she would say. It all seemed sort of arbitrary to me. If you’ve been to any of our dinners, you know that it clearly wasn’t arbitrary to Eva.

The intention with Blank Plate Boulder is to create a space for people with at least one thing in common: a love of real food. I’m sure that from that kernel some exceptional things will grow.

Eva Vanek

Eva wasn’t living in her house when I rented a room there in November 2011. I was the latest in the house’s rotating cast of characters and someone else was subletting Eva’s room while she was in Bolivia leading a gap year program for Where There Be Dragons, the Boulder-based student travel adventure company where she is now the admissions director.

Her three months in Bolivia wasn’t unusual for Eva; after high school in Kingston, Canada, she spent two years in southern Thailand and Central America, then after graduating from McGill University she spent more time in Central America before making her way back to Canada, and then Boulder to work with Dragons.

Though her current position has her spending the majority of her time in Boulder, every month or two she’s headed somewhere for work or play – Thailand, Brazil, Senegal, Jordan, the Pacific Northwest. A nomad at heart, while home she’s equally restless and is usually helping plan someone’s wedding, or tending her garden, or…hosting a pop-up cafe.

In addition to calling forth into existence Blank Plate Boulder, Eva created our overall aesthetic and also keeps things fresh and fun on a per-event basis. Hers is likely to be the first face you see at one of our dinners, greeting you with a huge smile, as happy to see you joining us as we hope you are to be there.

L.R. Laggy

Food hasn’t been “just” fuel for me for a long time. Even when I was training for a mountain bike race and eating rigid proportions of protein, fat, and carbs it was important to eat well and to cook well for friends. While I was living (and eating and cooking) in New York City I got to a point where I couldn’t grab just any slice of pizza – it had to be a great slice. Once you realize exceptional, it’s hard to accept mediocre.

I spent over 15 years in New York (interrupted by a two year stint living aboard a sailboat in Key West) working first in film production, then finding a calling in hospitality. Over ten years some of the restaurants in which I spent quality time were Becco, Babbo, and dell’Anima in Manhattan and Watty & Meg in Brooklyn.

In April 2011 while visiting my sister in Boulder I got on my brother-in-law’s mountain bike and somehow ended up on Marshall Mesa. The idea of extreme beauty — the vast rolling plains running into the towering foothills — as a backdrop to a recreational activity was something I hadn’t ever encountered, or even considered.

So I moved to Boulder that summer to spend time mountain biking, and shortly thereafter fell into a job as a server at the Kitchen, an amazing organization where I’ve spent the past four years discovering gratefully that New York didn’t teach me everything there is to know about service and hospitality.

As of this writing in September 2015 Eva and I have been putting on pop-ups for a year. After our October fermented foods pop-up there will be a short break, then a New Year’s Eve event, and after that…who knows?