"I haven't missed a single luncheon since they started," says Justin Ritchie, a regular who's based in Nassau and works in online stock trading. "Once you experience your first, you're kind of hooked."
It's easy to see why. The feast kicks off with a fresh watermelon feta salad and grilled whole shrimp, followed by crispy pork belly—and that's just the first course. Out come the hulking bowls of spicy pappardelle pasta with poached lobster, which is so delicious, everyone at the table begins serving each other seconds.
“The whole idea of a shared table tale is so you can connect with someone you don't know," says Michael. "By the time the meal is over, you realize that you just had lunch with a group of amazing people you would never have met otherwise."
During most luncheons, there's a brief pause between the second and third course, and today is no different. After the pappardelle has been polished off, the DJ cranks up his music and beckons the crowd to join him. For the next hour or so, a slightly sweaty, rosé-soaked dance party of 75 strangers ensues. The soundtrack is flawless, alternating from Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston to ABBA and Billy Joel. If you didn't know any better, you'd think these people actually knew one another.
Now in its third season, the luncheon began as a way to create awareness about the little-known island. “People in Nassau didn’t know Kamalame, even though we’d been around for 15 years,” says David, whose family purchased the undeveloped 96-acre island in 1994 and opened the resort two years later.
“The party started as a Sunday night dinner for 40 people. There were some hotel guests, but mostly just friends and family from Nassau,” he says. "Eventually we changed it to Saturday brunch and word began to spread, so we decided to elevate the experience even more." They started flying in a popular DJ to provide music, and partnered with Young’s Fine Wine, a boutique wine distributor, to curate pairings for each course.
Attendees began inviting friends, who would come, have a good time, and then in turn invite even more friends. Suddenly, people were flying in from around the world just for brunch—and booking weekends at the hotel based on the dates of the party.
“We had one lunch with 110 adults and 30 children. After that, we said to ourselves, ‘Yea, we’re going to have to put a cap on this,’” says Michael. Hotel guests are guaranteed a seat if they’d like one, and the rest are open to those flying in for the day. Every luncheon allegedly has a waitlist of people hoping to snag a spot should one open up last minute.
And it’s not surprising that people are so eager for a place at the table. Beyond the excellent meal, there's something especially unique about connecting with a group of strangers on a private island, if only for one afternoon.
By the time course three emerges from the kitchen—a grilled whole branzino with whipped potatoes and string beans—the entire 75-person party is out of their seats and dancing. David gently corrals the crowd back to the table, where there's more wine to be had.
Maybe it's the impending food coma (or all of the Sancerre) but the fourth and final course—a lighter-than-it-sounds Coconut Créme brulé—feels like a hazy fever dream. Soon enough, the guests are heading back to their helicopters, and seaplanes, and yachts, exchanging phone numbers with their new friends along the way.
The sun begins to set—a curtain call of sorts—and the boats and planes disappear into the horizon. More likely than not, they'll be back again soon.
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*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors