Did we succeed?
Well we certainly appeared to have some happy guests. The conversation was buzzing all night, although I really do think we might have struck lucky with our guests as they all seemed intent on having a good time with or without our help. The food appeared to go down well and the feedback was all incredibly positive. For us it was a steep learning curve. The Other Half doesn’t have any front of house experience. I’m comfortable in the kitchen, however, dinner parties for large groups normally involve not insignificant amounts of red wine, which tends to dull the nerves. It also has the added benefit of being able to turn culinary mishaps into highly comedic affairs. Not so last night. I was a very good girl and refrained from any ‘light sedation’ until after the pudding course.
So what were the key things we learned?
On your first night…
Do have some friendly faces around that table that know you, their way around your home and that you can actually cook (and can tell everybody that if it all goes horribly wrong!) It really does help to take the pressure off and is incredibly useful, if like us, you forget to tell everyone where the loos are.
Do cover off as many of the practicalities as possible. Most people drank white wine last night and we didn’t have a plan for where the ice buckets would go (too intrusive on the table). We winged it a bit and thankfully it didn’t appear to stop anyone topping themselves up. And do get help – you will need it. We had my beautiful capable little sister helping with serving (who just happens to have experience and was unflappable all evening) and we even roped her BF into spud scraping.
DO NOT – and I can’t stress this one enough – DO NOT terrify your guests by fawning over your vintage linen before they sit down to eat.
Do break the ice by carelessly pouring half a bottle of port over said vintage linen.
Don’t expect everyone to eat everything you serve. Some people really don’t like black pudding. Even the very best black pudding from the award winning Trealy Farm. It doesn’t mean the food is pants. It doesn’t mean they are personally snubbing you. It means they don’t like black pudding. It means that in a fixed 5 course menu for 10 the laws of probability suggest that some things will come back to the kitchen. (This was a very hard lesson for me to learn – I was having an am-dram moment in the kitchen and the OH was suggesting that I might need to rethink this whole supperclubbing lark.)
Do spend time with your guests. Supper clubbing is a ‘hybrid’ dining experience. If your guests were only interested in the food then the odds are they would probably go to a restaurant. Your guests want to meet other guests and they want to meet you – they want to feel ‘hosted’. I was rather terrified about how the whole sitting down with everyone at the end might work (and there was a small part of me thinking – “what if they boo me when I come out of the kitchen?” Yes I do realise that sounds highly paranoid but such are the nerves on your first night). It was, however, exceptionally easy and really great to have an opportunity to chat with everyone. If last night is anything to go by then ‘supperclubbers’ are a very interesting group of people.
So the big question…
Will we do it again? Well we’re fully booked for the August ‘swper’ so I guess that’s the decision made
P.S For anyone unduly worried about vintage linen please be happily advised it has been restored to its former glory for the second time this week and is once again in pristine condition .
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