Panem Forever - A Hunger Games dinner by Geek Crusade
Photo credit: Bryan Huang for Geek Crusade

How many tributes does it take to have a Hunger Games-inspired dinner? 35, as it turns out – that’s the number of people who turned up for Panem Forever, our Hunger Games dinner at Bridge Cafe | Restaurant | Bar that took place on Nov 26.

It was part of our Dinner Is Coming series, which draws different fandoms together over food. Our previous two events, which were held in March and April, were Game of Thrones-themed dinners.

Given that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I was coming out in November, we decided to make The Hunger Games the focus of our latest dinner. Not least because Hand of the Geek Gillian Ang and I are both THG fanatics. Plus, she’s constantly going on about how she wants to be Jennifer Lawrence when she grows up.

Each dish in our three-course dinner was designed by Bridge’s chef Daniel Grobnik, and based on specific quotes from the THG books. FYI, Chef Daniel is the former chef de cuisine of Saint Pierre and hails from Austria (a little known district in Panem). Besides being an excellent cook, he’s also rather hams.

Gillian and I were all dolled up for the occasion – her as a pink-wigged Effie Trinket, and me as the poor baker’s son Peeta Mellark with my uh white apron and my (hard and mouldy) bread. She’s clearly the better looking one anyway.

We also decorated the restaurant with some of the THG propaganda posters, which made for a really nice effect:

Not to mention menus based on some brilliant posters created by College Humour. My favourite poster is the one about sponsoring a tribute so you can feel less guilty about the deaths of children.

Just as we had hoped, a fair few of the diners turned up in costume. Not quite as elaborate as the GOT costumes we saw earlier this year, but still pretty dazzling. There were more than a few Katnisses, including a girl on fire.

The evening began with a quiz where the diners were tested on their knowledge of the Hunger Games books – they were required to match each of the 13 districts to their respective specialty:

Panem Forever - A Hunger Games dinner by Geek Crusade
©Geek Crusade

Unfortunately, most of them had already filled it out even before we started the quiz! We should really have done the Singaporean thing and reminded them not to start until the invigilator said so.

But on to the dinner: We started with pumpkin soup (“My resolve is almost immediately broken at the first table, which has twenty or so soups, when I encounter a creamy pumpkin brew sprinkled with slivered nuts and tiny black seeds. “I could just eat this all night!” I exclaim.”)

Panem Forever, a Hunger Games-themed meal
Photo credit: Bryan Huang for Geek Crusade

For the main course, there was a choice of lamb stew with prunes (“What’s impressed you most since you arrived here?” …“The lamb stew,” I get out….“The one with the dried plums?” asks Caesar. I nod. “Oh, I eat it by the bucketful.”) We had to take orders for the lamb well in advance, because the meat was cooked for 36 hours (!).

Panem Forever, a Hunger Games-themed meal
Photo credit: Bryan Huang for Geek Crusade

Or chicken in creamy orange sauce with chunks of orange, on a bed of grains (“Chicken and chunks of oranges cooked in a creamy sauce laid on a bed of pearly white grain, tiny green peas and onions).

Panem Forever, a Hunger Games-themed meal
Photo credit: Bryan Huang for Geek Crusade

And for dessert – a sort of dragonfruit smoothie with just a touch of sour cream (“A frothy pink soup dotted with raspberries”). Guess what the berries are a reference to.

Panem Forever, a Hunger Games-themed meal
Photo credit: Bryan Huang for Geek Crusade

The uniform consensus from the diners I spoke to: They LOVED the food. And honestly, that was the best feedback we could have gotten for an event like this.

Fandoms coming together is great, but it’s not going to be much fun if the food isn’t. Besides, it may be the Hunger Games, but no one wants to go that far in their fandom!

It was also interesting to hear the (fairly unanimous) verdict on Mockingjay – Part I: “Okay only, lah.”

It was a Hunger Games dinner after all, so we took the opportunity to show them a little bit of the real Panem: our trip to Asheville, North Carolina, where much of the first Hunger Games movie was shot. We checked out quite a number of the major shooting locations. Yes, we really are that hardcore.

You can read the full story of our trip here and here, but here’s a couple of photos of the locations where District 12 and the Arena were set.

And of course, the various Katnisses couldn’t resist having me throw my (rather unsanitary) bread to them:

And that’s that: another instalment of Dinner Is Coming over. No one formed factions to murder each other, nor did the Peacekeepers execute anyone. Till the next dinner: may the odds be ever in your favour.

Did you come to our Hunger Games dinner? Tell us about your experience!