Amongst food-loving types the words ‘supper club’ have become somewhat ubiquitous. The phrase is flipped around on telly and radio, there are supper club cookbooks, hundreds upon hundreds of blog posts and I’ve been to my fair share. So when I had the opportunity to try my hand at running one along with a friend, I jumped at the chance.
We picked our theme, Christmas in August and sent out word. What surprised me however was the number of times I had to explain the concept to people. Perhaps people aren’t as well acquainted with the idea as I had originally thought?
In a nutshell a supper club is a coming together of strangers and friends to share an often lavish meal created and cooked by amateur home cooks in a domestic or out of the ordinary venue. Invitations can be clandestine and spaces are restricted. Ingredients for the limited menu are usually responsibly and creatively sourced and diners are asked to donate an amount of money they feel reflect the quality of the meal and cover the costs. Labour is donated.
Supper clubs, unlike sometimes-snobbish dinner parties, are about a love of food and the sharing of said food with good company. And our little Christmas in August evening did just that. The middle of the year is the appropriate time for a hot Christmas dinner in Brisbane, Queensland. With ye olde fashioned Christmas carols blaring, candles lit and a waft of mulling wine hanging in the air we welcomed our guests and couraged them to mingle while snacking on appropriately cheesy, literally and figuratively, Christmas hor d’oeuvres - a labna ‘present’, vol-au-vent wreath and festive fruit tree.
A traditional Christmas dinner is nothing without turkey and we didn’t want to disappoint. Two of the finest turkeys were purchased from Allsop & England, brined and braised a la Nigella, then roasted before being presented to the waiting crowd.
Due to the amateur and frugal nature of events such as this it’s not always possible to cater for every dietary tweak but we did have a nut roast. Which perhaps may not look like much but I promise you it almost stole the show. Try it.
Peas and shallots, fancy roast pumpkin, rosemary roast sebago potatoes and honey carrots accompanied the dual turkeys and the nut roasts. We served these communally at the table which felt just like a family Christmas dinner with guests serving their neighbour and talking about Christmases past and yet to come. As the Food Connect homestead warehouse was the location for the feast we gave carving duties to it’s founder Robert Peakin who did a marvelous fatherly job.
Of course we followed this with Min’s great-aunt’s old-style plum pudding with brandy custard. We even lit up the puddings with blue flames – a trick I will definitely be trying again.
It was hard work. There are things we could have done differently. It was so difficult to keep our menu small as there are so much lovely festive fare to get excited about. It was great to mix researched recipes with old family favourites. It was so satisfying to be able to source local and responsibly produced fruit, veg and meat. Including some cavolo nero from my sister’s backyard. It was great to meet new people and share one of life’s great pleasures.
It really was great fun and, for me, highly addictive. We already have plans for the next event.