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Five Global Flavours: One Two Culinary Stew’s top supper clubs

One Two Culinary Stew blogger Pina Broccoli Anaia has been making the Cambridge food scene a tastier place for 10 years. In her regular column for Velvet, she takes us on a world food tour. . . right on our doorstep. On the menu this month: supper clubs

Food brings people together and a supper club is one of the best ways to do it – as the cook or as a guest. It’s a fully immersive dining experience where a chef or cook welcomes you to their communal table at home or a venue not normally used as a restaurant, and offers a pre-paid, fixed menu specially prepared for the event. Supper clubs are also known as pop-ups or kitchen takeovers, mainly when a small food business does not have a bricks-and-mortar eating establishment.

The origins of supper clubs are unclear but whether they come from Prohibition-era speakeasies in the US, Cuba’s paladares (family-run restaurants in their homes) or other underground/closed-door restaurants worldwide, the concept of alternative dining is the same. Nowadays, supper clubs are less rebellious and operate from premises registered with Environmental Health.

With supper clubs steadily rising in popularity, our region boasts many talented chefs and cooks hosting in their house or teaming up with venues to present the food of their home countries to appreciative diners. Here are five supper clubs showcasing some truly delicious global flavours.

Gourmandises Académie
Le Bistrot Clandestin supper club, part of Corinne Payet’s Gourmandises Académie cookery classes and food experiences, deserves a double mention as it reflects both her French and Creole culinary heritage. Corinne was born in Réunion, a remote tropical island in the Indian Ocean, and raised in France. Corinne’s friendly and laid-back supper clubs are held in her Cottenham home where guests seated at her dining room table tuck into a hearty and unfussy menu of French or Reunionese cuisine.

Gourmandises Académie credit @gourmandises_academie
Gourmandises Académie credit @gourmandises_academie

Réunion Island
Réunion, an overseas department and region of France, has a unique identity of African, Chinese, Indian and French traditions and cultures. The food of Réunion is humble and vibrant.
The supper club dishes are all home cooked by Corinne, even using the marmites (Dutch ovens) so essential to slow cooking the island’s iconic cari. There are countless variations of this flavourful curry dish. Whether it’s a cari poulet massalé (chicken slowly cooked in a masala spice mix) or a traditional cari poisson featuring monkfish, Corinne serves it with the requisite trinity of rice, beans and rougail (a zingy condiment).
She also brings the tradition of Réunion’s popular street food to her guests with samoussas and bouchons, influenced by Indian samosas and Chinese siu mai dumplings. As an accomplished pâtissière, Corinne’s desserts include tarts brimming with tropical fruits like mango, passion fruit, papaya or flambéed bananas, and handcrafted chocolates with verbena from her garden.

Gourmandises Académie credit @one2culinarystew
Gourmandises Académie credit @one2culinarystew

Inspired by France’s wonderfully simple bistros and off-the-beaten-track cafés, the convivial French Soirée supper club features Corinne’s take on the classics, such as chunky terrines, rich beef bourguignon, creamy dauphinoise potatoes and buttery tarte tatin. Corinne also presents Let Them Eat Cake, an indulgent grazing table of homemade sweet and savoury afternoon tea-esque treats that would make Marie Antoinette envious.

Slow Chew credit @one2culinarystew
Slow Chew credit @one2culinarystew

Slow Chew
Taiwan native Alex Hughes swapped a high-flying corporate and creative career for a taste of the slower life – literally. She occasionally runs her relaxed and interactive Slow Chew Taiwanese supper club in her quirky Cambridge home.
Inspired by world travels and a mother with cooking prowess, Alex brings her culinary talents to a cosy kitchen that seats only four guests (five at a squeeze). She is admittedly fussy about ingredients, taking the time to source quality produce that is local, organic, free range and outdoor bred.
Cooking from scratch whenever possible, Alex’s changing tasting menu of East Asian dishes – with a focus on the light and subtle flavours of Taiwanese cuisine – has included tofu steaks with enoki and shimeji mushrooms, mantou (steamed bun) with scallion omelette, slow-braised pork belly ragout with fresh Taidong small-crop rice, and vine tomatoes in apple vinegar and dry plum dust.

Suzuki Dining credit @one2culinarystew
Suzuki Dining credit @one2culinarystew

Suzuki Dining
Suzuki Dining’s chef Kaori Suzuki, who hails from Japan, brings authentic Japanese culinary experiences to her town of Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding areas within a 15-mile radius.
Whether she’s taking over the kitchens of cafés and wine bars with her sold-out supper clubs, bringing the flavours of Japan to people’s homes as a private chef, barbecuing Japanese street food at garden parties, or grilling yakitori in her stall at Bury St Edmunds’ Saturday market, Kaori has been delighting the taste buds of Suffolk foodies for almost a decade.
Her Sushi Night supper club at The Wine Cellar BSE offers a set menu of edamame green soybeans, lotus root chips, nigiri and rolls with the option to order more à la carte items such as melt-in-the-mouth sashimi. Supper club dates are always on Bury market days when the salmon, bluefin tuna, yellow amberjack, sea bream, scallops and prawns are at their freshest.

Faraj's Kitchen credit @one2culinarystew
Faraj's Kitchen credit @one2culinarystew

Faraj’s Kitchen
Chef Faraj Alnasser from Aleppo, Syria has ultimately made Cambridge his home – and the city’s food scene is all the better for it. His Faraj’s Kitchen supper club at Meadows on Mill Road is a celebration of the rich flavours and delightful aromas of Syrian cuisine, matched with sustainable practices and warm hospitality.
Guests lucky enough to secure a place at the table enjoy a set menu of Faraj’s Middle Eastern vegetarian dishes, featuring a parade of sharing starters such as silky hummus, mixed pulse salad, Qarnabit roasted cauliflower and Muhammara roasted red pepper dip with walnuts.
Rounding out the menu is a comforting and satisfying main like celeriac and oyster mushroom Shawarma or Kusa Bel-Laban courgette stuffed with wild mushrooms, caramelised onion, pine nuts and seven Baharat spices, as well as a springy slice of cake with zesty flavours of lemon and pistachio or orange and almond.

For more reviews and recommendations, follow @one2culinarystew or visit onetwoculinarystew.com

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