THE RISE AND RISE OF SUPPER CLUBS
Underground supper clubs – restaurants usually run by amateur chefs out of their own homes – bred like fruit flies in London last year. This year, we'll see them spreading further throughout Europe. And, as new venues open, the established supper clubs are evolving and innovating too. If you're the owner of an already successful supper club, you may be looking to…
1. Expand and move up in the world like Hidden Kitchen in Paris, which upped sticks to larger, swankier premises to cope with demand.
2. Go semi-pro, by getting an agent and a book deal like the enterprising Ms Marmite Lover of The Underground Restaurant in London. She's also running farmers' markets and a foodie version of BBC TV show Dragons' Den, all from her living room.
3. Take your supper club on tour, like the three friends behind Berlin's The Shy Chef are planning to do next summer. "Many people who come to our dinners want to host something themselves," says Costa of The Shy Chef. "So far we've had invitations to do our supper club in Prague, Amsterdam and Sydney."
BERLIN: 2011'S SUPPER CLUB CENTRAL
One online group, http://supperclubfangroup. ning.com, gives a good indication of where supper club numbers are rising. London is surely reaching saturation with a whopping 67, the Berlin scene is just starting to simmer at seven, Paris has four links, while other cities like Edinburgh, Lisbon and Granada are showing early signs of interest with one or two supper clubs each.
Costa says: "I'm getting calls all the time from people who want to start their own supper club and need advice. The trend is definitely taking off [in Berlin] at the moment."
Why is this good news for foodies? "Compared with London, Berlin has the big plus that it's a really cheap city," he says. "So for The Shy Chef we've been able to rent these amazing venues at low prices – like the flat in Kreuzberg that Quentin Tarantino lived in when he was shooting Inglourious Basterds. And we don't have to charge that much for the dinners, either. I've heard of London supper clubs charging £120 for a five-course menu – but we charge around half that at €65 for five courses."
For a supper club that invites professional guest chefs to cook, including Brad Pitt's private chef, that's a bit of a bargain.
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