The trend for supper clubs – informal dining experiences generally held in found spaces or people’s homes for a basic sum to cover costs – has been a gift to the middle classes: another way to indulge our foodie fantasies for those lucky enough to be bored of conventional restaurants and at the same time feel a frisson of cool at being part of a semi-underground scene.
Needless to say, we at MCH are thrilled, which is why we’d like to offer a few caveats in order to keep the spirit of supper clubs alive as long as possible:
- Share your wine. So you’ve being to your local independent wine merchant and splashed out on something a bit special. A Mercury perhaps, a white Rioja, or a really interesting Lebanese red. By all means use these as conversational gambits – a segue into chat about that delightful farmhouse in Burgundy or your year out on a kibbutz. But whatever happens, don’t hog you own bottle. People may decline in favour of their own carefully-selected vintage, but the illusion of sharing must be maintained at all times.
- Avoid being too cute on your website. I don’t want my taste buds ‘tickled’. I don’t want my evening ‘sprinkled liberally’ with anything (only my food), or for conversation to ‘simmer nicely’. Just mentioning a few obscure/seasonal ingredients will have me hooked; there’s no need to, as you might say, ‘over-egg’ it.
- Fussy eaters need not attend. Unless you’re at a specifically vegan supper club (they do exist – hello Brighton’s Gourmet Girls), being too arsy about the menu, especially without prior warning, really isn’t entering into the supper club spirit of adventure. It’s a supper club, not an a la carte restaurant. Are you sure you wouldn’t just be happier at home with some lettuce and the latest Naomi Wolf?
- When hosting, think your USP through carefully. Secret location, a bit of dressing up, a literary theme, a 100% chocolate menu… all of these we are up for. Combining a supper club with a film screening, though, we’re still dubious about. Somehow it seems both disrespectful to the film and the food not to give them your full attention.
- Go easy on the obscure animal parts. Some people are still a bit scared of eating pig’s anus and would really just prefer a nice chop.
- Coffee isn’t really a course, it’s a hot beverage. Ramping up the number of courses by including it in the count will piss people off and make them bitter and cynical. And it’s far too early in the trend to start getting cynical over supper clubs. If you want to call it a ‘course’, make sure that there’s at least a hand-made truffle on the side – that at least counts as food. Otherwise, call it ‘coffee’.
- Don’t be too commercial. Supper clubs are fun gatherings for like-minded enthusiasts. They are for amateur cooks and party-givers to indulge a passion and amateur gourmands to indulge another. If people think you’re turning a profit, the dynamic shifts from a relaxed host/guest set up to patron/punters. It’s no longer a supper club; it’s just a very small Corbin & King venture.
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