With the news that Tom Sellers (of Noma fame) is hitting London tonight and tomorrow with his pop-up Foreword, Hg2 thought we’d take a look at the current scene.
Pop-up supper clubs aren’t a new thing, by any means. They peaked as an underground movement in the UK back in 2009, and have existed in the States since the 1930s, many as an off-shoot of prohibition speakeasies. What we like about them, though, is that they still work best for amateurs. Like Tom Sellers, a few professional chefs have held pop-ups as a precursor to a later restaurant (Sellers is opening Story in London next year), and these are a great way to experience fantastic cooking in more relaxed and open surroundings, as well as get a buzz going for the forth-coming ventures. At only 24, the talented Sellers is definitely going to be one to watch, and his collaboration with the ultra-cool Rebel Dining Society makes tonight’s event a chef’s supper club with some street credibility. Still, the vast majority of decent regular pop-ups are held by non-professionals for the love of food, to meet new people and to make a bit of money. Unless you’re operating out of your living room, pop-ups can have pretty steep overheads, which puts off the majority of professionals and lets the genre hold on to its illicit appeal. With the recession continuing to squeeze, around £30 for decent food and interesting new dining partners remains an attractive option.
Often known as the doyen of modern pop-ups, Jim Haynes has been holding Sunday dinners in his Paris home for the past thirty years. Guests sign up on his website, confirm at 4pm on their chosen Sunday, and arrive alongside up to 80 other guests for one of Jim’s legendary dinners. He estimates that he and his friends have cooked for up to 120,000 people, and sparked hundreds of relationships and friendships.
Forking Tasty are two Italian brothers from Brooklyn who combine their love of food and friendship by hosting dinners in their apartment. Some nights this is combined with Reel Tasty, when they screen a film on a two-storey building as dinner is served. Scrumptious.
James Ramsden and his sister have been running the Secret Larder pop-up in the sitting room of their North London home since 2010. They run themed nights for up to 20 guests, and welcome people who want to display their art, suggest music playlists or help with the cooking. A proper pop-up feel, and the featured image for this post.
Other great London options include Ferdies Food Lab and Leluu, pictured above with Jim Haynes, who used to collaborate but now run their own clubs, and the pescetarian MsMarmiteLover. We had several other pop-ups in mind for this post, the problem being that the supper club is a fickle mistress. Many of the people we’ve heard of have since finished hosting their nights, for a variety of reasons. Oddly enough, this lack of permanence (with the exception of Jim Haynes), is probably a good thing for the pop-up genre. A continual turn-over of new places, new faces, and new ideas is only ever going to be a benefit in a movement that prides itself on its originality and alternativeness.