I thought this was a food blog...

Well, it is. I'm just taking a little hiatus for a moment. (I swear; it ties in.) Please refrain from reading any further if you are a squeamish person. What's posted below is a little gruesome.


Last night I had the pleasure of attending the most recent of Charlie's Dinners. To say that it surpassed my expectations would be an understatement. The food was divine, but I need to devote a post exclusively to the setting first to build the mood.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I walked into the gorgeously Gothic home of Billy Jamieson to be greeted by the host himself and none other than Susur Lee, one of (if not) the most famous chef in the Canadian culinary community.

Gregarious sommelier Jamie Drummond, who I originally thought to be Charlie was there. I introduced myself as the one churning the rumour mill and we shared a laugh. Other guests were current and aspiring sommeliers and other food connoisseurs. The attendees were great company and we enjoyed some lovely conversations over dinner.

Jamieson, the host, is an artifact dealer specializing in ancient and tribal collections with a slant toward the macabre. He has a pending show with History Television Canada called Heads and Tails.

His home collection could put most museums to shame. A full wall showcases ancient weaponry. An ancient horse-drawn hearse has been adapted into a very elaborate fish tank.

The largest butterfly collection I’ve ever seen stretches from floor to ceiling down two flights of a spiral staircase.

Jamieson has examples of taxidermy beavers, alligators, fish, ostriches, gorillas, and snakes cover the floors and walls. He is careful to mention that all of these examples are historic pieces.

In the exceptional case of a more recently contemporary animal, the leopard situated in his bedroom died of natural causes before being stuffed.

In the glass cabinets near the dinner table, were an impressive collection of skulls and shrunken heads. Billy let us smell one ancient skull that had been stuffed with spices and still smelled faintly of sage. The picture below depicts me holding a shrunken head. Someone made a joke that it looked like Rip Torn. I concur.

Last, but not least, was the gory contemporary artwork on display. (It matched the dark aesthetic of Billy's Dita-Von-tease-esque girlfriend.

This dinner environment would not suit everyone, but that's exactly what made the experience so special. Charlie's Burgers is an underground dinner party after all: not for the faint of heart. I've never seen a place like Billy's apartment and I was so grateful I could attend.

For the next post, I promise to discuss the food.


  1. So glad to see this go up. Your pictures and write up are great (and only touch on a little bit of the strange and amazing magnitude of Billy's apartment).

    Can't wait for the food write up and images.

    Great to meet you last night.


  2. Owen, it was so nice to meet you last night!

    I have more pictures than are suitable to include on an alleged 'food blog', but it's my show so maybe I'll bend the rules a little and include a few more.

    I hope I run into you again very soon in our similar career circles (or perhaps at another secret dinner.)
    - Jess

  3. I got the invite but could not make it. Sheesh am I ever kicking myself now
    Looking forward to reading more about the dinner.

  4. Thanks DivaQ. I may even include a few more of the decor pictures. Billy's place was simply fascinating.