Supper clubs essentially operate the same way as a restaurant: food for payment. But there’s something about the underground supper club that makes the dinner taste entirely different: authenticity.
Why? Because supper clubs are not just selling food; the chefs are selling an experience – one that can never be repeated even by the same chef. As they say at the theatre: you can never see the same play twice. Likewise, a supper club hosting a delicious French meal three nights in a row will be a different experience each night, even though the flavors remain the same.
Diners love our supper clubs because they are exclusive events. But beside exclusivity, our chefs and diners agree that the community environment and engagement with the cooking process are the three key ingredients that make these authentic experiences.
Perhaps the most obvious of the three, suppers clubs embody exclusivity because not everyone can experience the event. Most pop-ups only offer twenty or less seats at the table, so right off the bat, not everyone who wants to come can make it. Anyone can make a reservation at a restaurant, but supper clubs embrace the feeling of membership and belonging because not anyone can reserve a ticket. Secondly, pop-ups create a sense of exclusivity through one-time-only experience each dinner offers, which makes each supper club and each meal all the more authentic.
But this created exclusivity by the supper club host does something more for the diners: the diners feel a sense of inclusivity because they are among the few at the event. Feeling included provides comfort to any person, which is something our supper clubs want for each diner.
This is easily one of our favorite moments during each dinner: when guests begin to talk to each other and form relationships. As food and stories are passed around the table, diners engage in a community meal and environment. Since we know that spending time with friends has a great deal of mental and physical benefits, the more community-like the supper club feels, the better the experience for the guests. Diners may come as strangers but will certainly leave as friends.
But how do supper clubs create a communal setting without losing the authenticity? Some hosts will plan interactive events that promote diners to engage with others, such as a game or questionnaire. Other ways of bringing diners together are subtler and bona fide, such as communal tables, informal spaces (ex: a chef hosting an event at his flat), or serving food in large, sharable platters. No matter how much effort the host puts into creating a communal environment, the ultimate takeaway comes from the diners, which is why the overall collective experience feels so much more original than dinner at a restaurant.
One of the goals of our pop-ups is to make the customers feel that they are an essential part of the overall experience. The chef promotes engagement at the supper club through three main facets: the chef’s interactions with the diners, hearing the story of how the food was prepared, and discussing and rating the experience.
The more the chef interacts with the diners, informally and through the presentation of the food, the closer the diners feel to the chef and the overall experience. Conversations with the chef and among the diners are unscripted and unforced, so the engagement feels truly authentic. Second, many chefs will give the guests a story with the food: where it came from, why the flavors are important to the cuisine, or how the meal was prepared. This too allows the customer to feel closer to the food and the cooking process. Lastly, we ask each guest to rate the experience after the meal is over. Many of these diner reviews are visible on our website, so you can see for yourself what others thought of the event. ◊