Nude white walls frame the long dining room, their bare elegance and few minimalistic decorations give it a rather Scandinavian atmosphere. Music and home-made delicacies pour from the open kitchen, the black piano becomes another dish on its own and in that perfect canvas magic happens: hungry strangers in a stranger’s house have come together to break bread, enjoy life, discover and even make friends for life… if only for the night.
Underground counterculture has always been the other side of the main stream coin. Supper clubs are a response to the formality and blurry uniformity of restaurants, their existence is based on the three basic needs: to eat, to socialize, to explore.
Foodie startups are no doubt a deliciously sophisticated form or anarchism, supper clubs have been around since the last century, secret dining societies gather at private houses either by invitation or pre booking and enjoy home-made meals while strangers become friends.
Miriam’s Kitchen Table is located in the green outskirts of Huddersfield in Brontë country, where she has been creating tasty memories for her own story of creativity, resourcefulness and passion for good food.
we seldom think of home cooks as trendsetters-gastronomic insurrects; setting up a dining club in your house gives passionate cooks a low risk taste of a food startup, make some extra money and using and develop your culinary talents.
In a world where creative capital goes hand in hand with a service driven economy, sometimes we fail to look beyond the great urban centres, but we might underestimate the potential that a food startup might have even in remote rural communities.
During our holidays we decided to go north and spend new year’s eve with friends in Yorkshire where I was introduced to Miriam and before we realized we were already planning a Mexican themed superclub.
This was an exciting project for both because she had never had a guest cook and although I have cooked for crowds countless times I had never done it for a profit.
The menu as it happened: Aperitifs
- Virgin Mojito
- Frozen Tamarind
- Oyster mushrooms al mojo de ajo. Sautéed with garlic and guajillo chilies
- Roasted spring onions
- Black refried beans
- Black bean cream served with corn chips, cheese & cream topped with chili flakes. (v)
- Frida Kahlo’s recipe for chicken broth with corn kernels, courgettes, chickpeas, green beans and mushrooms. Garnished with corn chips, avocado and cheese.
- Pipian rojo. Creamy sauce of fried and ground peanuts, tomatoes, guajillo and ancho chilies with seasoned quorn and white rice. (v)
- Deconstructed Chile en nogada. Typical Mexican dish with spiced minced beef served in a mirror of creamy walnut sauce, garnished with pomegranate seeds and parsley leave
Mexican colonial loaves
- Tres leches sponge. Sponge drenched in condensed and coconut milk.
- Optional: rose and cardamom ice cream / mandarin and orange sorbet.
What does it take to run a supperclub?
- Whether you team up or go solo, it is important that you remind yourself constantly that it is a business and you have to treat it as such, it is not a dinner for your mates where anything goes.
- Although being an accomplished cook is essential, planning, budgeting, tidiness and even other skills such as basic waitressing and basic hospitality skills are indispensable.
- People will pay good money and expect quality in food, a relaxed enjoyable experience and a warm but respectful service from you.
- Balancing work and life has never been easy, but running a home-based business can make things extra complicated in wonderful and terrible ways.
- Getting help from family and friends is a good start, but you want to keep business and friendships good, a fair remuneration with essential rules about each other’s duties will keep things running smoothly.
Some tips to keep your agenda booked include:
- Make it easy for people to find you online. Go full socialmedia, make an effort to post good pictures of the preparation, your guests, the venue and food, marketing, marketing, marketing.
- Never underestimate the word of mouth, specially because your initial costumers might live in the same city and you want people to hear all about how awesome their experience was.
- Keep a guest book for your customers to sign before they leave. This will help you keep track of their feedback and get their contact details.
- Write and deliver at least one newsletter and ask your contacts to share it with friends and family.
What did l learn from this?
- Even when you plan everything ahead, there’s always something that will need to be changed last minute.
- Be prepared and relaxed about improvising. ie. So you don’t have enough ice cream glasses? Bring out those lovely jars, bowls and ramekins, don’t sweat it. After all people know they’re eating at someonelse’s house not a restaurant.
- Be relaxed and friendly. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t approach this with the same candidness as you would a for a dinner party. Because in a sense, this is exactly what it is.
- People will enjoy knowing about what you’ve so carefully prepared, a little introduction to each dish will set the mood to fully and consciously appreciate it.
- Take time to chit chat with the guests, they will feel looked after and welcomed.
- And lastly, the most important lesson was to keep pushing myself to have new experiences and broaden my possibilities. Will I set up my own? Certain things are tricky to do when you become a nomad, but will I do it again? Definitely!
Big thank you Miriam and her lovely family, Tamara for her gentle touch and all the guests for willing to try something new, for all their lovely feedback, praises and amazement at how *real* Mexican food tastes beyond the crisp shell tacos, fajitas and burritos and MrD for the constant push and support.