Despite experiencing what’s been referred to as the worst financial crisis in decades, a revolution has been taking place behind closed doors across the capital.
Meet Kerstin Rodgers, better known by her culinary alter ego ‘Ms Marmite Lover‘, the mother of London’s underground dining revolution.
Kerstin started out as a photographer covering rock music, fashion, travel and portraits for glossy magazines and newspapers.
Her true passion was food and in 2009 she launched the UK’s first supper club, known as ‘The Underground Restaurant‘. She describes the clubs as a part political statement, ‘taking back control and making a stand against overpriced and unfriendly dining culture across London’.
Dining at home
It’s a simple concept where the usual rules and regulations of formal restaurant dining are thrown out the window. Ms Marmite invites diners to book a place at a table inside her own home on her bookings site.
The menus and secret locations for the #dinners are fixed before the event. Dinner is usually a fixed price and diners are asked to bring a bottle of wine. Amie Tsang from the First Pint Blog loved her first taste of Underground Dining:
“The set menu and informality of the evening avoids some of the more sterile elements of eating out in London. Another advantage is that each course is introduced by the chef, which means you know exactly how everything was cooked and what went into it – a personal touch”.
The combination of being invited into a stranger’s home, trying new dishes and meeting new people has been a hit across London:
“Thank you so much for such a wonderful time on Saturday and welcoming us into your beautiful home, I loved it! How would I go about booking a table for your restaurant?” said Jessica Tan over on Facebook.
Expanding beyond the supper club
The concept has been become so popular that Ms Marmite has now opened her own fan club site where other Londoners can launch their own Supper Club events.
It’s expanded across the capital. A group of female culinary enthusiasts created Gingerline, a supper club that moves across the new East London line and has a cult following on Facebook, with events selling out within 30 minutes.
#Last year Ms Marmite launched her first Underground Christmas Market, inviting independent crafts and food makers to her home to showcase their wares to epicurean enthusiasts from across the capital. The event was an unexpected hit and resulted in the stalls spilling out into Ms Marmite’s garden.
The First Pint blog’s Carmen Kong visited and loved the event:
“It was heaven, and it was pretty packed…with more than 100 stallholders and about 350 guests. This active food-lover attracted many more equally enthusiastic food makers. Most of them produce fresh, homemade and unique produce and were looking for an appreciative audience”.
Is it legal?
Some people have questioned just how legal the operations are. With profesional chefs now jumping on the bandwagon, it’s turning legal grey area as to whether event holders need licenses, or to even pay taxes.
Would you join a supper club? Or, like many culinary trends, is this a short lived fad soon to be replaced by the next big thing?
Tell us your thoughts.