What would be your last supper? This is a question I never thought about till I attended The Last Secret Supper Club thanks to Lauren for inviting me.
Eating out has always been an important part of people’s life but in the last few years it has suddenly gone top of the charts even before gigs and rock concerts. There are foodies everywhere and instagram is filled with food photographs of people posting photographs of food they eat. Back in the days eating out meant going to restaurants – order your favorite thing from the menu, women gossiped about men and men talked about sports and the hot victoria’s secret model and then you went home. But now there are different kinds of eating out and the most interesting and popular of the lot are – Supper Clubs. Supper Clubs are not like eating out at any restaurant but its a mixture of both restaurant and a dinner party. You pay a fixed price in advance for your meal and a great time in advance, it has become the most popular thing to do in London and New York these days. Supper Clubs actually started in the early 1990’s in New York where it was a thing that the High Society people did and now it has made a grand come back – still quite elitist though.
I spend an evening with The Last Secret supper club, which is organized by Food Photographer Lauren and her business partner along with Top Chef Jesse Dunford Wood at Parlour in Kensal. Lauren was kind enough to allow me to bring a plus one with me, so I turned up with my friend Patrick at the venue 30 minutes late – we confused Regents Street in Kensal with ‘The Regents Street’. We were greeted by the lovely hosts and they immediately showed us the way to the bar where we were served Mandarin Infused Gin and Tonic in plastic bags which also contained a plastic fish inside it – quite an innovate way to serve cocktails I must say!
There was a mixed bunch of people – Food reviewers, The hot New York media PR woman, Editors of Magazines, The Finance guy who works for a Hedge Fund and has no clue about supper clubs(he was my plus one) and a lot of American Expats (Supper Club’s are a big thing in The States). We were all seated like we were at a posh dinner party and then food was served finally – people ate, joked, talked about work (the introductions), then slowly once the wine and cocktail started kicking in, it went in all different directions including politics, sex and london stereotypes.
I thoroughly enjoyed my starter, Buffalo Wings in Blue Cheese Sauce – never tried buffalo wings before but every one in the table agreed that it was delicious and very well presented. The fish pie followed after that, I have to be honest I would never order a fish pie (I am a hard core meat lover when it comes to pies) but it was definitely tasty. And finally the dessert was served – Banoffie pie! You can’t really go wrong with this classic because its almost everyone’s favorite and the chef definitely nailed it, I loved the way she presented it too.
We had a good laugh, some good food and a very fine evening!
I had a chat with the ‘Brains’ of this wonderful concept Lauren and Lottie, this is what they had to say :
The initial concept of Last suppers, came from a series of different ways of thinking around people’s favourite foods. This led to a slightly darker side, what would you choose if you only had one meal left? Would it be food from your childhood, or would you pick something you’ve eaten in a restaurant or abroad?
This was the beginning of our brand. We started by asking friends and family about their last suppers and were amazed by the variety of menu choices. We began shooting their favourite dishes and soon found a style to the food and photography that worked well. The more people, we asked, the more we began to want to expand the idea into supper clubs. It definitely had a new twist compared with other London based supper clubs.
We started off by running them from home and at a rented location, but soon realised how much work was involved and that it wasn’t going to work financially this way. Lottie is a full time recipe developer and food stylist at Seven Publishing, and I am a freelance food photographer, so it was very difficult to fit into our already busy schedules. This is when we decided to collaborate with a chef.
I met chef Jesse Dunford Wood about 5 years ago whilst photographing restaurant reviews for a magazine. We remained good friends, making our decision simple when choosing a chef to involve in the brand. Jesse is very innovative, his culinary creativity still manages to suprise me. We have been running our supper clubs for 6 months now, 3 months of this in collaboration with Jesse. They have been a great success and I hope they continue to be!
The exciting part about the Last Secret Supper Club, is that you won’t know what you will be eating until you arrive. It’s like a game of meal roulette! The menu is very varied, but we always cook an alternative for people just incase. We also ask all our guests to submit their meal and any dietary requirements before they attend. This way there is a chance of one of their courses being selected and winning £10 off their ticket price. This is also their moment to state if there is anything they specifically dislike! We will adjust their meal accordingly.
Our supper clubs are hosted every last Wednesday of the month. The next one is the 30th of April.
We are continuing to write our cookery book alongside, we’re in the process of putting together a shooting schedule, and we hope the book will be released in April 2015.
You can also find out more about the brains behind ‘Last’ via our websites-
Biriyani was a dish originated in Iran and travelled to the Indian subcontinent with the Iranian travellers. In India we have several variants of biriyanis. I grew up in Kolkata (Original Capital of India by the British) and the Calcutta Biriyani in the list of famous Biriyanis and is definitely my favourite one, this style biryani evolved from the Lucknow style when Wajid Ali Shah, the last nawab of Awadh was exiled in 1856 in Kolkata. But he did not forget bringing his personal Chef with him as he was very particular about his food. Due to recession aloo (potato) had been used instead of meat. Later on that has become the specificity of Calcutta Biryani, though meat is also served along with it. In addition, this biryani is much lighter on spices than compared to other Biryani’s.
I thought a little history about this finger licking dish would be a good piece of trivia to brag to your friends about when you next time visit an Indian restaurant.
So let’s take a look at the ingredients we need for this:
3/4th Kilo Lamb
4 Big Potatoes, half boiled and diced into big chunks
4 cups of basmati rice
3 Table Spoon Garam Masala Powder
2 cups of yogurt
2 Tablespoon Ginger Garlic paste
3 Onions chopped
Couple of cinnamon sticks and cardamom
Few strands of saffron
1 glass of Milk
5 Table spoon of Ghee (Indian Butter)
Fry the onions till golden in ½ table spoon of ghee and keep it aside in a container
Use the same ghee to fry the half boiled potatoes
Marinate the lamb with yogurt, garam masala, salt, ginger garlic paste for atleast a few hours if not overnight.
Pour this marinated lamb mixture into heated up ghee and let it boil in low temperature, till the lambs are soft and tender.
Half boil the rice with the cinnamon and cardamom
Once the lamb is boiled, take a big container and mix the half boiled rice, fried onions, fried potatoes and the boiled lamb together in the rest of the ghee (4 table spoon or more if you like it to be more rich)
Then add the milk and saffron to it and cover the container and let it cook in very low heat for 30 mins and give it occasional stir.
Once the rice and potatoes are boiled and the milk has soaked in, your biriyani is ready to be served.
This is a long process I agree but trust me the effort is so worth it because I can promise this is definitely going to be one of the best meals you’ve ever had!