I have been cooking as long as I can remember, taught by my mum who has also always loved cooking. I remember as children, my sister and I would pretend to be Delia as we made brownies, cookies, honeycomb, etc, while talking to the invisible TV camera!
At university and beyond, a group of us would take it in turns to put on a dinner party, with ever more complicated dishes and adventurous menus – we were a competitive lot!
After nine years of engineering and computing, both as a student and a research assistant, I felt it was time to do something a bit more fun. I headed off to Val d’Isere to work for YSE, a chalet company that prides itself on its trained staff and restaurant-quality food. Although all of us were experienced cooks when we arrived in the resort, we were then put through our paces on a gruelling month-long training course. Despite the long hours, I found it great fun, and learned an awful lot – although I do have a tiny idea of what it might be like to be on MasterChef, as the boss and head chef would detail every tiny thing wrong with your dish! I also spent a summer in the Dolomites, honing my chef skills for a chalet of 12 guests.
When I was settled back in England, I realised how much I missed my university dinner parties, and the lovely social atmosphere of chalet hosting. Quite by chance, I found out about the supper club phenomenon – I think I spotted a review of MsMarmiteLover‘s cookery book and supper club guide. Also known as ‘underground restaurants’, the idea is that people open up their home, and cook for a bunch of strangers!
They are different from a restaurant, as people tend to sit down together on one big table, mingling with and meeting new people. In fact, the social side is half the fun of a supper club, perhaps giving you the chance to speak to people you would not otherwise meet. Obviously, the food is also a big part of the evening, with the emphasis on good, home-cooked food.
I host a supper club once a month, and can seat up to 14 guests. On arrival, everyone is given a complimentary drink and a canapé, before sitting down for a three-course meal, followed by coffee and homemade petits fours. Everyone sits together, so it doesn’t matter whether you come on your own, with a partner or with a group. Halfway through, everyone change seats so that they get the chance to speak to everyone – it’s a very social affair.