Whether a little side project amongst friends or a new business on the rise, supper clubs can be a very enjoyable way to spend time for any food-lover. They usually start out as an intimate project amongst friends and then before you know it, you’re taking bookings way in advance and turning people away.
While supper clubs are more established across the pond in Europe, in places like Berlin and London, they are beginning to take off in the States too. The attraction to them is born out of the curiosity to learn about your food: to know where it is coming from, who is cooking it and how it is being prepared. With some restaurants becoming more and more faceless, and the growth of chains and larger operations, generally speaking, the dining experience is becoming less intimate with time. Contrary to this, the concept of supper clubs provides a departure from this way of thinking. It is usually set in the cook’s home and is a wonderful way to bring together a group of strangers that only have the love of food in common.
If toying with the thought of setting up your own, or if you have already started but on a small low-key basis, here are a few tips to consider for ramping up the success of your supper club:
1.) The Concept
The concept behind your supper club is the most important element of your culinary event. Without a tight concept, you run the risk of failure. Think of what sets your supper club apart from the rest, what do you have to offer that the others don’t. Whether you focus on Middle Eastern cooking, vegan recipes or leftover ingredients, try figure out a concept that comes naturally to you.
2.) The Guest List
When starting off, the guest list is an easy place to go wrong. For your first few nights it may be a nice idea to start off with friends and friends of friends. When you slowly start to find your groove, you may find you have a group of strangers that are all seriously interested in both what you are doing and what your other guests have to say – making for a thoroughly enjoyable evening for all.
To make the transition from just a meal with friends at your place, to a full on supper club, a few small touches will go a long way. Perhaps consider items like placemats with your supper club logo on it – these can be organized online in no time.
4.) The Sound of Music
Create a playlist that will match the mood of your evening and all its different stages. Make sure to exclude anything to slow or sad – this should not be a sombre affair!
5.) A Touch of Green
Plants and flowers are always an easy option for decoration and add some green life to the room. If you want to go that extra mile, chance making a DIY planter.
6.) A Welcome Drink
It’s always a nice touch to greet guests with a welcome drink. This not only acts as a nice gesture but is also an ideal way to break the ice amongst guests.
7.) The Menu
Depending on your level of skill, your menu should be carefully curated, should incorporate seasonal ingredients, and should be manageable within whatever amount of time you give yourself. Try to do as much prep as possible before your guests arrive and plan out your time as well as you can.
8.) Palate Cleansers
The right menu should aim to take guests on a culinary journey with different flavours, spices and textures. In order to make sure the transition from one course to the next remains as smooth as possible, perhaps consider something to cleanse the palate. Items such as sorbet, bread, fruit or pickled goods usually do the job.
The important thing here is to let conversation happen naturally. By introducing each course, you’ll find that the conversation will unfold from there organically.
10.) The Price
The pricing of your supper club can be tricky. Make sure to take into consideration the amount of hours you have put into the event and the quality (cost) of your ingredients. Bear in mind though that supper clubs starting off need to begin on the lower end of the spectrum. As you grow, so too will your reviews, the word of mouth, and subsequently, your price.