For the last two years I have been a member of the organising committee for OctoberFeast, the annual Lewes food and drink festival.
OctoberFeast encompasses a whole range of events: from its signature programme of pop-up suppers and showpiece Street Food FEAST at Harveys Brewery, to theatre, film, workshops, speciality menus, talks and mini festivals. It’s a pleasure to be involved, both behind the scenes and as a guest.
My highlights this year included a honey tasting and talk by food writer Hattie Ellis and a day of workshops with Dan Lepard, both held at The Hearth pizzeria. The most nerve-wracking event for me, however, had to be my return to supper club hosting, just two weeks after I opened my house to dozens of friends and family for my wedding. I had barely gotten over my hangover when it dawned on me I had better confirm the venue and menu with my already paid-up guests.
While I have hosted much larger supper clubs in the past, I worried that this one would be particularly exposing because I was to welcome strangers into my home. Would they discover my piled-high washing basket, my receipt-laden office and the dust under my bed? On Tuesday evening I was on the brink of cancelling and then, over dinner with my aunt, I decided to stop self-pitying and get the hell on with it.
The billed event was for an ‘heirloom dinner party,’ so on Thursday I turned to my oft-quoted grandma’s cookbook for inspiration and, after a few last minute tests, decided on the following menu:
Beetroot soup & homemade spelt bread
Baked chicory & ham with heirloom carrot salad
Pan-fried mackerel fillet in brown butter with raw pickled mushrooms and new potatoes
Pears Josephine with Benedictine & date ice cream
With a little help from Keane and my friend Marylin, we converted our front room into, essentially, one large dining table and turned over five courses for 11 guests at £25 per head. I am pleased to report no major cock ups, and I was also delighted that some of the tips I learnt from Dan Lepard on Tuesday helped to vastly improve my standard spelt loaf. Here’s what some of my guests said:
“Thanks for a marvellous evening, great food and great company,” MR, Lewes
“Delicious food, beautifully presented and excellent company! When are you doing it again?” KI, Brighton
“Thanks Chloe for the superb pop up dinner. The beetroot soup and pan fried mackerel were winners for me but my taste buds were tickled throughout! Lovely relaxed evening.” JC, Brighton
“Thoroughly enjoyable eve with scrumptious food, beautifully delivered and well-timed.” SI, Brighton
“Thanks so much for last night’s supper – lovely food and interesting people. We didn’t hear enough about where your recipes came from though. Perhaps next year…” JH, Lewes
I was a little too fraught to join my guests at the table and tell the stories behind the dishes I served, but to make up for it, I intend to share the recipes here on the blog over the next week or two. I also hope to host another pop-up soon, in other words, not leave it a whole year. Watch this space.
If you’d like to be among the first to hear about future G&P supper clubs, please sign up to my mailing list.
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About Chloe King
I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.
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