Tast­ing notes

The new wave of sup­per clubs

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - 18.08.18 - Amy Bryant

THE WEEK THIS col­umn went to print, my col­league was hunt­ing for lo­cally made cheese, por­ta­ble hot­plates and wine glasses – the ne­c­es­sary kit for the in­au­gu­ral sup­per club she hosted in a de­signer shoe shop in Soho, Lon­don. A fea­tures writer by day, Eleanor Steafel and her two co-founders (who work in me­dia and restau­rants) serve up cock­tails and three-course meals for 20-odd guests by night, pop­ping up in a dif­fer­ent neigh­bour­hood each time. Over British ri­cotta with chilli and crispy bread­crumbs, and an incredible apri­cot po­lenta cake, in­vited fe­male speak­ers steered the dis­cus­sion for the evening, from up­skirt­ing to race and restau­ra­teur­ing. Group con­ver­sa­tion, as well as that cake, was key (hood­din­ners.co.uk).

Sup­per clubs, their dates once dis­sem­i­nated with hushed se­crecy and of­ten hosted at home, are no longer sim­ply about su­perb food; in­spi­ra­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion are of­ten the goals. That’s cer­tainly the case at The Am­a­teur Ta­ble, launched by Lily Gjert­sen (thea­ma­teurtable.co.uk). A Lei­ths grad­u­ate, she sup­ports fel­low culi­nary stu­dents – daunted by choos­ing be­tween pro­fes­sional kitchens or ca­ter­ing – to host their own evenings. ‘They all fin­ish their train­ing with ridicu­lous tal­ent,’ she says, ‘but some don’t have the con­fi­dence to do it them­selves.’ So while pay­ing guests en­joy car­damom ice cream with baked-cus­tard baklava, say, the chefs learn menu plan­ning, bud­get­ing and mar­ket­ing, many go­ing on to run suc­cess­ful street­food oper­a­tions, sup­per clubs and restau­rants them­selves. ‘The food in­dus­try is so open that lots of peo­ple helped me when I started out,’ says Gjert­sen. Sup­per clubs can in­spire great things, and feed you well at the same time.

Top right Din­ers and speak­ers en­joy­ing an evening cour­tesy of Hood.Right Some of the dishes served at The Am­a­teur Ta­ble sup­per club

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