In a bit less than a week, I am taking the plunge and organising my first official supper club. To many it sounds like it’s as easy as it comes, but for me it’s a real challenge I’ve been considering for a long time.
I’ve been put to it about a year ago by a chef friend of mine who was convinced I could actually be up to the task – which I immediately doubted massively. He once told me he’d bring 6 strangers into my home and that I’d need to serve them a 3 course meal of my choice, based on what I felt comfortable cooking. And I panicked.
I am not a chef, I just love cooking and I do it everyday whether I come home late or not. And to be fair, what I most love cooking are these family recipes that my grans and my mum have taught me since I was a kid, and I can almost say that I have come to master most of them thanks to years of practice.
However, the idea of putting myself out there though, as in the South Manchester underground dining scene (Chorlton not to mention the area), was a different story. I have been to a few supper clubs myself, mainly to the awesome Drunken Butcher‘s and must say that it helped me overcome my doubts or fears. Of course guests know that they’re not going to a restaurant and are instead entering their host’s home and as such will have a different level of expectations. Participating in these supper clubs showed me that the atmosphere was always genuinely friendly and relaxed between like-minded people just enjoying a great meal and good banter. Talking and getting to meet fellow diners, helping out in the kitchen and benefitting from a pro’s tips also most definitely gave me a boost of confidence. And I knew I had invited enough friends over for meals or roasts on Sundays, to know I was probably capable of producing edible and enjoyable food. So it was just a matter of time before I felt ready enough to show what I can be capable of.
French food, the one I like most and practice at least, doesn’t need to be fancy or fussy. Yes, some of the best chefs in the world are French and some of them also are not only cooks but real artists. For example, I DREAM of one day being able to afford a meal at Alain Passard’s L’Arpège. What fascinates me about him is what the food he creates says about him, his story, roots and culture. He respects the land, its heritage and is insanely creative. The product is placed at the centre of the dish itself and it tells so much it almost could speak.
I love this idea of a dish telling a story. And every attempt I make at cooking some of my family dishes has got a story about it or what it reminds me of. I started making these dishes again only a few years ago, not only because I had loved them so much as a child but also to honour the memory of my recently deceased grans and the craft and generosity they used to put into them. Whenever I cook, I am finding myself brought back in my Nan’s kitchen on a sunny summer morning, waking up to the smell of lardons and onions slowly and gently frying, already knowing and salivating at the idea of that Boeuf Aux Carottes we’d have for lunch. That very smell to me is a piece of my childhood, a bit of happiness that I treasure as a memory.
In a nutshell, this is why I felt like I needed to share my childhood’s favourite (which I will never be able to make as delicious as I remember it to be).
Arriving to the end of September, carrots are one of the main autumn veggies, which will be slowly cooking in a pot with beef, onions and lardons in white wine. This makes a very hearty casserole main that I will be serving to my first ever supper club guests, hoping it will create an enjoyable moment and maybe some new memories to take home with them.
Menu for Saturday 24th September:
Amuse-bouches: Smoked duck breast skewer with raspberry and melon, accompanied by a Kir Royal cocktail
Starter: Cheese soufflés
Main: Boeuf aux carottes de Nana
Dessert: Mini financiers gateaux and crème anglaise