CORRECTION: This story was updated at 5:37 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, to state that Creighton Jagnandan's father is from Guyana, not Ghana, and that Jagnandan and Marno-Ferree worked in Austin, not Chicago.
While many of her peers were saving up for cars, Linden Marno-Ferree was saving for plane tickets. She lists South Africa, Russia, Mongolia, China and Vietnam as some of the places she's visited.
Her partner, Creighton Jagnandan, has a passport-worthy background all his own. His mother is from Finland and his father from Guyana.
It's no surprise that exotic flavors often make their way into the pair's meals — which they are sharing with the community with their Ukko Supper Club.
If you go
Events are typically held on the first and third Thursday of each month at The Countdown, 3210 Brainerd Road. Jan. 16 features a midwinter all-vegetable meal. Events are posted on Facebook and currently cost a standard $70. Each is limited to 12 guests. To learn more, visit facebook.com/ukko.cha.
" ... We're just trying to convey food we like ourselves," Jagnandan said.
The two have worked in restaurants and bars for years in places like Austin, Boston and San Francisco.
"Northern California does food differently than anybody else. Their standards are off the charts," said Jagnandan, who's spent a lot of time in kitchens.
Marno-Ferree, meanwhile, has typically held positions in the front of the house and is now a bartender. She uses that experience to create pairings for each of Jagnandan's dishes, incorporating everything from sake to cocktails.
Their experience also plays into their service model.
"We like attentive, easy service and really helping guide people through," Marno-Ferree said.
Frustrated when their standards weren't met in the restaurants they visited, they decided to use the supper club as a springboard to launching their own.
"Creighton worked in San Francisco and Austin. [There], it's hard to make it, and it's hard to make something that's your own," Marno-Ferree said. "In Chattanooga, you really get the opportunity to build something. We have had so much support here."
The two live in East Ridge, but are utilizing a space in Brainerd courtesy of a friend who's "a big supporter of great food in Chattanooga and a friend to a handful of chefs who are coming up," she said.
In the commercial kitchen on-site, the two prepare six dishes for each meal. Themes have included the West Indies, drawing on Jagnandan's heritage; the Mexican interior and barbecue.
"Creighton focuses on the arc; there's a thread through it," said Marno-Ferree. "The arc might be about an ingredient or flavor profile, but it wouldn't be just about one geographic area. It's more about playing with styles."
As each course is served, Jagnandan talks about the inspiration behind the dish and Marno-Ferree explains the pairing "without boring people," she said. Afterwards, guests are welcome to hang out for more conversation over a nightcap.
Just before parting, the hosts give everyone a take-home gift, like a spice blend that captures some of the meal's flavors.
"We spend money on the things that are good," Marno-Ferree said.
"We don't make a lot of money off this at all, but we're very thankful we get to do this," Jagnandan added. "It's nice to be able to play with ingredients, and to be able to experiment in that way and create in that way is really cool."
Email Jennifer Bardoner at firstname.lastname@example.org.