From intimate dinners in their East London home to whimsical evenings held in a hidden tile factory on Regent’s Canal, Alice Levine and Laura Jackson, aka Jackson&Levine, have thrown their fair share of supper clubs. Laura even hosted our #CookForSyria launch dinner in London with Rosie Birkett (see the salads and vegetables chapter for Rosie’s mujadara recipe). Here, the experts give their tips on hosting your own #CookForSyria charity breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.
- FAMILY STYLE: Syrian food is all about sharing with others. Serving dishes “family style” on large platters will create a great atmosphere, particularly between people who don’t know each other.
- SET THE SCENE: When it comes to table design, expensive is not always best. For our recent supper club, we made our own serving boards from recycled wood. We tend to spend nearly as much time transforming the space as we do on the food – you want guests to have a memorable experience as well as a great meal. Handwritten menus and invitations with information about the charity you are supporting will also add a personal touch.
- DISCOVER LOCAL FINDS: Always keep your eyes peeled, wherever you are! We have found some great pieces including serving platters and glassware in charity shops, and love a holiday market for interesting tableware. For our last supper club, we went foraging on Hackney Marshes and discovered some beautiful pink sweet pea flowers (we do, however, advise you to follow foraging guidelines).
- KEEP IT SIMPLE: Have at least one cold course. This can be a starter (such as some of the dips and flatbreads from the mezze chapter of this recipe book), a beautiful salad to share or a stunning dessert made in advance. This will give you more time to relax and speak with guests, and can be a lifesaver for those with a small oven and kitchen.
- SLOW COOKING: Preparing dishes a few hours in advance can help you feel more organised and add a greater depth of flavour. An inexpensive cut of meat can be delicious, especially when slow cooked (see the soups and stews chapter for ideas). Your butcher can advise where to get bang for your buck.
- MUSIC: Spend some time on the playlist. Something that suits the feel and style of the event. What’s on the record player will set the mood.
- THE LITTLE THINGS: Be generous with your leftovers. If you have lots of lovely flatbread left, wrap it up in greaseproof paper with a bow and give it to guests for breakfast the next day. You could even put some of the amazing Syrian spices into pouches with recipe cards for your guests to use at their own Syrian supper clubs. It’s the little touches that people remember.
- GET SOCIAL: And, of course, share your experience and encourage others to #CookForSyria.