Whether you’re hosting an intimate dinner party for your closest friends, or extending an invite to the local community – a supper club is the perfect opportunity to feast on great food. It’s a chance to make an occasion of an evening meal, show off your chops in the kitchen or even try something different.
MarkMaker Chris Fischer knows a thing or two about that. His greenhouse suppers on BeetleBung Farm are a Martha’s Vineyard legend, and here the chef passes on some wisdom to help you follow in his footsteps.
Set a manageable calendar – hosting around once a month is pretty feasible. Pick a great venue and refine your concept there first, but be realistic about size. Start small. Do your best work every time and make sure every guest is greeted with a glass of wine, champagne or craft beer.
Chris says: “You can buy cheaper wine and buy twice as much, pouring it into carafes to make it a "house" wine – which adds romance and mystery. The most important thing is for your guests to feel comfortable, stimulated, well-fed and with ample amounts of wine.”
Raw fish and oyster dishes make for simple starters, while leaving plenty of room for heartier fare later. Your main course is a chance to really impress, so choose your cut carefully if you’re cooking with meat and make it the star of your supper.
Chris says: “The best and most crowd-pleasing main is a braised piece of meat (pork shoulder, lamb shank or beef short ribs) finished over an open fire. It’s delicious, easy and adds to the show. Serve your meat alongside some blanched spinach with garlic, lemon and polenta for a sure fire winner, with salsa verde to finish.”
Dress according to the season. Make use of those heavy sweaters in the colder months, or go for a denim button-down for a simple alternative. As the host, you’re bound to be busy, so keep comfort in mind if you’re dressing to impress.
Chris says: “Wear clothing you feel comfortable bending and lifting in, because cooking, when done properly, is a very athletic thing. As it starts to get warmer, a white T-shirt with jeans and your favorite apron is classy and casual.”
Wine for the table is a supper club essential, but after the meal move on to coffee or cocktails. Your guests will hopefully be feeling full from their food, so don’t leave them waiting by attempting anything too time-consuming. Pick your spirit of choice and add a few simple ingredients to bring out the flavor.
Chris says: “I like bourbon – on the rocks in the summer with a splash of soda. In winter, you can warm it with a dollop of honey and a splash of lemon juice, plus a leaf of lemon verbena. Adding a little hot water to serve in a mug is cozy and comforting during the coldest months.”
Keep things simple and never stray from your comfort zone. The host should always have a presence (although not overbearing), helping to bring people into the conversation and filling any gaps with smaller bites or treats from the kitchen.
Chris says: “It's all about your guests. Just engage them simply and make sure they are mingling with one another. Keeping everyone well fed and with filled glasses will go a long way to supper club success.”
Speaking of what to drink… check out 5 easy whiskey drink recipes from Chris Fischer’s favorite distillery.