Brits missing restaurant-quality meals and the luxury of dining out since eateries shut up their kitchens in late March have been handed a lifeline – thanks to virtual supper clubs.
The new trend sees top chefs tutoring, via meeting app Zoom, home cooks on how to create restaurant-quality dishes in their own kitchens, after parceling up all the raw ingredients they need.
The menus are broad, with everything from a la carte style fish dishes to jerk chicken and fancy cocktails. A three-course meal for two with wine comes in at £80, around the same price you’d pay in a good restaurant.
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New foodie trend virtual supper clubs sees keen home cooks guided through making restaurant-quality dishes at home: London chef Karan Ghosh’s dishes – an Indian caprese salad (bottom right), a salmon or paneer curry (top) and a crumble with cardamon on a rhubarb compote with lemon and rose mousse was on the menu for FEMAIL’s Bridie Pearson-Jones
A gourmet cookery lesson via Zoom: Bridie logged on in her kitchen – along with a good smattering of others keen to learn – and chef Karan took them through how to make his dishes
The ingredients are delivered ahead of the session – Bridie was stunned at just how much arrived through her door for the meal for two…
First up: Karan’s Indian caprese salad, left, and, right, Bridie’s version made in her own kitchen
Diners are sent a link to a Zoom meeting and a chef from the restaurant guides them through a dish they would usually serve up.
Among those leading the way is London eatery and grocer Deli Cat & Sons, which has teamed up with local chefs to launch a virtual supper club.
Youri Michel, co-founder of The Initiative, the hospitality group which runs Deli Cat & Sons told FEMAIL: ‘We give total freedom to the chef as it is all about them and what they would like to share.
‘The cocktail is created with careful collaboration between our group mixologist, David Frau, and the guest chef, pairing the chef’s menu to the cocktail’s taste.
‘Once again we always try to support and showcase the brands that have been helping us through our journey.
The main dish was a tandoori salmon, or paneer for vegetarians. Bridie says following the recipes wasn’t hard but she did struggle to keep up while trying to hunt for all the ingredients in the delivered bags
Chef Karan explained that his menu was an Asian take on contemporary European dining. Pictured: the food during the various cooking stages
FEMAIL’s Bridie Pearson-Jones tried out a supper club hosted by The Initiative and Deli Cat & Sons with Chef Karan Ghosh (pictured) from The Drop Wine Bar in Kings Cross, London
FEMAIL COOKS UP A STORM (WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM ZOOM…)
FEMAIL’s Bridie Pearson-Jones tried out a supper club hosted by The Initiative and Deli Cat & Sons with Chef Karan Ghosh from The Drop Wine Bar in Kings Cross, London.
‘When my bag of food for the supper club arrived I was shocked. It was a huge box that I struggled to carry up the stairs, my first thought was surely this couldn’t all be for me? It wasn’t, I’d be sent enough to make two generous three-course meals and as well as a bottle of wine and gin, mixer, and syrup to make a cocktail.
The amount of ingredients at first looked a bit overwhelming, and even though I consider myself a decent home cook I was slightly anxious if I’d be able to keep up.
Looking good! Chef Karan’s ingredients on the table before the meal – Bridie admits while he was super prepared, her own experience was a little more chaotic
And for dessert: a crumble with cardamon on a rhubarb compote with lemon and rose mousse. Bridie’s version was a pretty accurate match on chef Karan’s polished dish
When the Zoom call started, there was a mix of 15 or so different people.
Older couples engaged in the chat with a glass of wine and groups of twenty-somethings, mostly. Before we started cooking, we were taught how to make the cocktail – although it was quite rushed… I’m not completely sure I made it correctly – but the green concoction I ended up sipping on was enjoyable nonetheless.
Chef Karan explained that his menu was an Asian take on contemporary European dining; our first course was an Indian twist on an Italian caprese salad while the main was a curry (most people had tandoori salmon, I had the vegeterian option, paneer).
The dessert was a crumble with cardamon on a rhubarb compote with lemon and rose mousse.
Cocktail in a bag: pictured are the ingredients Bridie was sent before the meal to cook
‘Before we started cooking, we were taught how to make the cocktail. I’m not completely sure I made it correctly but the green concoction I ended up sipping on was enjoyable nonetheless!’
Chef Karan explained that his menu was an Asian take on contemporary European dining, our first course was an Indian twist on a caprese salad while the main was a curry – tandoori salmon or paneer for vegetarians. Pictured: the food during the various cooking stages
I was impressed with how the meal was put together, we started by making the dessert and then the parts of the starter and the main – it’s the kind of thing I always see on Come Dine With Me but I’m never organised enough to do myself when throwing a dinner party.
While we were doing things I hadn’t done in cooking before, it wasn’t hard to follow or overly complicated, although Chef Karan was clearly well prepared and I wasn’t – which meant I was reaching around to find ingredients in the sprawling bag of goods!
It was quite manic cramming all of the cooking into the short time, but so worth it. The food was delicious.
A huge part of the taste was the quality of the ingredients, which was much higher than a regular supermarket.
Secondly, a lot of the difficult, labour-intensive parts of cooking were skipped, the cucumber, potato and onion was already diced into tiny perfect cubes which would have taken ages to do by hand.
I’d have been very happy to have been served this at a restaurant, and hugely impressed if a friend had produced it at a dinner party.
All in all, I would say it’s a great lockdown night in for foodies.
For example last week’s ‘Fogged Basil Smash’ showcased craft gin brand McQueen and the Violet Fog.
‘It’s handcrafted in the hills of Jundiaí, Brazil and has 21 botanicals – it’s makes for a great presentation!
‘With the wine, we partner with sommeliers to suggest wine pairings with the menu but also for the guest to discover.
‘The response has been amazing and we have now a lot of regulars – we are planning to host a second day per week.
‘At first it was more our friends looking for activities during lockdown but quickly it shifts into an eclectic group with big families , young entrepreneurs and virtual dates.
Rum cocktails and plantain chips: How another keen cook got on…
Helen Michael, from London, tested out a meal for two…
Starter: ‘Sea bream ceviche with passion fruit, lime, coriander, jalapeno and orange. It was so fresh and zingy!
Main: Pulled jerk chicken tacos with island ‘slaw, coriander, tomato salsa, guacamole & sour cream. (we had plenty of island slaw to chomp the next day, with a nice salmon lunch)
Snacks: ‘This was accompanied by plantain chips for nibbles and rather divine chocolate truffles for dessert.
Drinks: ‘I had unforgettable rum cocktail with Bumbu rum.
‘It was new to me and something I’d definitely go out and buy and make again.
‘All of the food will make an appearance at my next dinner party the minute I’m able to do it.’
Helen Michael, from London, who tried out the club told FEMAIL: ‘I love dining out, and with that removed from the agenda since quarantine I’ve been looking for new ways to experience restaurant quality food which doesn’t just involve ordering it on an app.
‘This put some of the excitement back into dining, introduced me to new food ingredients and drinks brands and helped me hone my home-cooking skills.
‘I’d say I am fairly good cook, but I’m not sure I would have created something to that standard on my own had I just been following a recipe book.
‘I did it with my housemate and I found it useful that I was in a pair so that one person could be chopping one thing while the other prepped something else – it helped to be fluid.
‘You can opt-in to the audio and ask the chef to go over something, which we did a few times.’
When asked if she’d be happy to eat it in a restaurant, Helen responded: ‘Without a doubt, yes!’
Soho private member’s club The Court has launched delivery of dinner and drinks packages with entertainment to enjoy at home.
Bar manager Darien Topuli and Head Chef Mircel McSween each week curate recipe kits available to order for delivery or collection every Friday.
When the night comes, The Court’s Instagram channel will post instruction videos on how to prepare dinner and fix your drink.
Every Friday from 8pm, The Court House Band members will take to the piano on Instagram live for the infamous sing-a-long request night.
Their repertoire includes everything from Britney to The Beatles and requests are taken via the live feed.
The menu changes weekly and comes with a number of options for food and drink, including chicken with English asparagus and cream sauce and the vegan falafel, a light and fresh dish that packs a punch with tahini yogurt, apricot and cashew couscous.
Vegan options are also available, and each box will come with a selection of antipasti including focaccia and olives.
Many other restaurants and bakeries, including Pizza Pilgrims and London’s top pasta restaurant Bancone have launched ‘at home kits’ where diners can recreate their favourite dishes in lockdown through a written menu.