Come dine with me: Clandestine cooks invite Manchester into their home for ‘secret supper clubs’

By Daisy Yates

We all have a soft spot for a bit of home cooking. But a new craze is taking that love to another level – secret supper clubs.

Popping up everywhere from London to Tokyo, New York to Paris – supper clubs are the latest craze in dining out (or is that in?) and Manchester has its fare share of amiable hosts, if you can track them down.

Supper club events, held in the hosts’ own homes, promise an evening of delicious food and interesting company to create an alternative dining experience guests won’t easily forget.

The first official supper club was held in Manchester in 2010 and since then the phenomenon has taken off – if a little in secret.

Monica who runs The Spice Club, which she believes was Manchester’s first supper club, told MM: “When we started back in 2010, not many people had heard of supper clubs in Manchester but over the last couple of years the concept has become more mainstream and we now have our own little supper club scene that’s growing strong in our fair city too which I think is fantastic.”

SPICING IT UP: Monica and her mum Anita believe The Spice Club delivers a
truly special dining experience

This alternative dining experience allows hosts to be completely in control of their event and inject their personality into the meal with varieties of themes and menus.  

Whether the guests (who previously have probably never met) all sit in silence or chat excitedly is solely up to those who come along, say The Spice Club – they just provide the wonderful home-cooked Indian food from the setting of a North Manchester detached house.

Wendy Swetnam, owner of Wendy’s House, a vegetarian supper club, said: “This is a way of doing something on my own, a way of having control over other things like how the room looks, how guests are met, it’s a whole package.”

Lex, chief creator of catering company NomSense who regularly hold supper club events, said: “The fact that we can put on different themes and types of food allows us to showcase what we can do.”

A typical evening consists of a free welcome drink and nibbles followed by a special meal co-ordinated and cooked by the hosts.

A significant attraction of supper club dinners is that the hosts don’t provide alcohol, drastically cutting the price of the event for their guests which can be as low as £10 – and some of the money given over is sometimes given to charity.

Monica said: “We like to ensure that everything is cooked on the day of the supper club to ensure the best quality freshness and taste in all of our dishes.

“We also add a lot of personalised touches to our events to ensure each of our guests have a truly special dining experience with us.”

Supper clubs receive characters from all ages and backgrounds, showing the range of tastes that they can cater for.

Monica said: “It’s usually an eclectic group of guests which is, what I think, makes supper clubs so interesting.

“We may have a student sat next to an artist who is sat opposite a CEO.

“This is what is really special – you get to meet and converse with others who you may ordinarily have never met and you do so over a home-made, freshly prepared Indian feast!”

Supper club dinners purposely break down the barriers that restaurants strive to maintain, rather than keep up the illusion of food magically appearing before the diners, hosts engage with their guests, which is all part of the ambience.

Ms Swetnam of Wendy’s House said: “It’s a different kind of experience; the whole social element is very different from any other eating experience.

“In restaurants there’s less focussed attention and here you get to have a surprise in trying things you wouldn’t usually.”

Monica said: “It’s extremely rewarding to see our guests enjoying our food and giving us positive feedback after their meal.”

“I think diners in Manchester and all over the UK are constantly looking for new experiences.

“I believe the social and communal aspect of supper club dining is something that our guests really do enjoy.”

The Spice Club owner believes that being able to enjoy food made by someone who is ‘genuinely passionate about the food they are serving’ is a vital aspect which pulls guests in and makes them want to return again and again.

Want to get involved? Shhh! Here’s a few to whet your appetite…

Spice Club Manchester


Wendy’s House vegetarian supper club     

Images courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks.       

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