be a guinea pig

Want to be a Guinea Pig? First, read the Mission Statement. If you still want to be a Guinea Pig, here's what to do.

You can get email notifications of event announcements and updates to this website by adding your email in the "Follow by Email" box to the right of this page (if you're on a mobile device, just click that link). This serves as our "mailing list" for announcement of events. Click that link and then join the group (using the email you'd like notices to go to) and you will receive emails announcing future underground dinners, and occasionally (very rarely, we promise), other similar events that may be of interest. You can find us on Twitter at @cobayamiami and on Instagram at @cobayamiami. We also have a Cobaya - Gourmet Guinea Pigs Google Group which is used to announce events where you can join the group and add your email; we're trying to consolidate these mailing lists, but it's a work in process.

That's all there is to it. No secret handshake, no initiation rites, no poetry contest.

Our events typically have limited seating capacity and fill up very quickly, so you're encouraged to use an email address that you check regularly, and to respond promptly when notices go out to have the best chance of getting a seat.

Here are a few more detailed suggestions for how to be a good guinea pig:

(1) Please make sure you've read the entire event notice. In particular, this, which is included with every message announcing a new event:

A brief, but important, refresher course on the whole Cobaya thing: there is no "menu". There are no choices. You'll be eating what the chef chooses to make for the night. If you have food related allergies, strict dietary requirements, religious restrictions; are salt sensitive, vegetarian, pescatarian, or vegan; don't like your meat cooked medium rare, or are pregnant: this meal is probably not for you. Do not expect white-glove service. Don't ask for your sauce on the side. Just come and enjoy.

We wish we could accommodate everyone, and we understand some people have serious food allergies and some make equally serious food choices; this is just not the place for them. Our primary goal is to give chefs the opportunity to cook exactly what they want.

(2) The chef, the menu, and the location are not announced in advance: when an event is announced, the information included is: (a) the date (and time, usually); and (b) the price. That's it. Locations will generally be in the greater Miami area; if it's going to be someplace really out of the way from central Miami, we will usually indicate that in the notice. The specific location is provided only to people with confirmed reservations, usually the day before the event. Please don't ask who the chef is. Please don't ask where it's going to be. We're not telling.

(3) Please understand that simply requesting a spot does not guarantee you a seat: we get many more requests than we have seats, and we conduct a lottery to fill available spots. If you've requested seats for an event, you will not hear anything further until the seat lottery is completed, usually several days later. At that time, two types of notices will go out by email: some people will get notices that say "SEAT REQUEST CONFIRMATION" (this is the equivalent of a fat envelope in response to a college application); others will get notices that say "WAITLIST" (skinny envelope).

(4) If you get a Seat Request Confirmation, the next step is to book your seats through PayPal (a PayPal button will be set up on the website, and there will be a link to it in the email). Please do so quickly. This is how we know you're coming, and the longer it takes, the less time we have to fill spots from the waitlist if necessary. If you don't book your seats by the deadline, they will be released back to the waitlist.

(5) Once you've booked through PayPal, you will hear from us once again the day before the event, when you will get an email with the location of the event, confirmation of the start time, and any further directions or special instructions that may apply. There's no dress code; wear what you like. If you like alcoholic beverages, your options vary: we often have an optional pairing available, sometimes there will be drinks available for purchase, and usually you'll be able to BYOB too. The confirmation email will set out your options.

(6) If you requested seats but will not be able to come, please let us know as soon as possible. That way we don't continue to hold seats for you, and can start filling them from the waitlist faster. There are always a lot more people who have requested seats than we're able to accommodate, but we need to give people who have been waitlisted time to respond as well. Failure to respond to a Seat Request Confirmation will not help your odds if you request spots for future events.

(7) Often, we limit the number of seats that can be requested to 2 per person. If we do so, you can request additional seats, but they will automatically be put on the waitlist until all other spots are filled. If you can't come unless you can get more than 2 seats, either (a) don't request spots for events where the number has been capped; or (b) say so in your request, and then the entire request will automatically be waitlisted.

(8) If you get a "WAITLIST" notice, don't despair. It seems there are invariably at least a few spots for each event that end up becoming available to the waitlist, and if that happens, we'll let you know by email as soon as we can. Waitlist spots are filled on a rolling basis, sometimes up to the day of the event. If you wish, give us a cellphone number to call you for last-minute cancellations. Once again, quick responses are essential. We will try to give you a heads up if you are next on the waitlist and there may be spots available.

(9) We do not send out a "Sorry, you didn't get in" message to people on the waitlist. So if you got a waitlist notice and don't hear from us again before the event date, it means we didn't make our way that far down the waitlist. But we encourage you to keep trying: it's a new lottery for every event.

For a little more information on how we operate, and how you can help us do it better, you should also read this post: "some thoughts on turning #60."

Finally, and most importantly, welcome! Thank you for your interest in taking part in our little experiments.