Take twenty or so random strangers, one mystery location, and a chef with the freedom to cook outside of their regular kitchen, and hey presto - Shanghai Supper Club
. Conceived by Shanghai local Camden Hauge, the Shanghai Supper Club has been a resounding success since the minute it opened back in 2013.
Camden observed Shanghai's obsession with food first hand and knew it was ripe for a supper club concept. There was a rapidly evolving food scene with new chefs arriving from all over the world, and a food-loving population hungry for novel experiences.
With a menu and venue that changes every month, the real success of her venture has been in bringing together Shanghai's food-lovers in one place, a situation ripe for new collaborations and exciting ideas.
I was lucky enough to have a seat at a Supper Club event last weekend, ending a week of near perfect weather - warm days edging into summer with cool nights.
We met on the terrace of an old Shanghai house off Ferguson Lane, now belonging to Pudao Wines. The terrace was set with bouquets of English roses and strung with fairy lights.
Chef for the night was James Stockdale of The British Kitchen. James is a baker of renown, supplying delicious cakes, tarts, pastries and slices to some of Shanghai's best cafes, whilst also working as an architect. He cooked us an inspiring British menu, starting with his take on the Ulster fry - vodka -infused vine tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs, and beans on toast.
Also on hand was Manuel from Summergate Wines who mixed tea-inspired cocktails to begin and end the evening.
James surprised us all on the night by announcing he had resigned from his job as an architect to work on The British Kitchen full-time. If dinner was any indication he should enjoy great success. James' take on British 'Boiled Ham' was a delicate ham terrine with piccalilli (English style Indian pickles) and preserved apple; and 'Pies and Spuds' turned out to be homemade British spring lamb, pea and mint pies served with charred potato salad and slow-braised celery.
Between courses we topped up our wines from the highly space-age enomatic wine dispensing machine downstairs, meaning you could try a glass or a taste of any of sixteen premium wines. Brilliant!
Great food and wine is always a catalyst for making new friends, all of whom were passionate about food. So inspiring to be in such wonderful company. But the best was yet to come - James had baked up a desert storm with a selection of traditional handmade British deserts, all with James' signature twist - lemon and ginger curd tarts with passionfruit; salted dark belgian chocolate caramels; peanut brownies with Sichuan pepper; and a spiced pepper plum crumble tart.
Supper Club is like a dinner party with old friends you just haven't seen in a long time, where your only job is to relax and enjoy the feast!
Shanghai Supper Club
Held monthly. When the next Supper Club is announced, register
and wait to hear if you've nabbed a seat - if so you can bring along one guest.
June's Supper Club has just been announced and promises to be insanely good - Spanish chef Willy of El Willy
fame is cooking at the Zotter Chocolate Theatre
, a Wonka-esque shrine to the art of Austrian chocolate. Get yourself a seat!