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Fader, on his third or fourth speech of the night, echoes Selby's sentiments: "Without all of you, our restaurants couldn't survive and thrive." He goes on to endearingly call his ring a "band of miscreants that always comes together to meet challenges."

One of which is to now abolish the secrecy. "We didn't have our shit together in the beginning and we didn't want to be embarrassed, so we kept things quiet. It's kind of like building a treehouse," says Fader. "As you continue to build it and it keeps taking shape and looking better, you want more people to experience it. That's the point where we're at now."

From the start of 50top, each of the chefs was allowed to invite four people to the dinner, and, Fader says, "there's a ton of banter via e-mail to discuss the invitation list." But now the process is changing: The guests will have the decision-making power. To that end, each person invited to the Stranahan's dinner adds a name to the e-mail invite list. From here on out, Fader explains, each 50top group will be expected to create the next contingent of fifty.

Chef Jamey Fader prepares for a 50top dinner while Vesta's Wade Kirwan looks on. See more photos in this slideshow.
Chef Jamey Fader prepares for a 50top dinner while Vesta's Wade Kirwan looks on. See more photos in this slideshow.
Just one of the nearly fifty dishes served at 50top.
Just one of the nearly fifty dishes served at 50top.
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"I know we'll get a few ding-dongs, but I really believe that we'll also get the people who are unbelievably passionate about food," says Fader. "Our ultimate goal is to create longevity, camaraderie and collectivity with anyone and everyone who cares about food. As long as you come here with the right attitude and for all the right reasons, everyone is welcome."

For more photos of the Stranahan's 50top dinner, go to westword.com/slideshow. Contact the author at lori.midson@westword.com.

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