Making friends as an adult has to be one of life’s biggest challenges. Hanging out online or with coworkers is the extent of most people’s socializing. If you’re lucky, there’s a networking event after work where you exchange business cards and elevator speeches. But a few drinks and some industry do not stir the soul.
If you really want to meet new people, you have to make a concerted effort. In a way, you need to approach making new friends much the same way one goes about meeting a new romantic partner. There are the usual spots that will possibly lead to interesting conversations… book clubs, bike rides, art classes…
Or a supper club!
What is a supper club, anyway?
A supper club can be a popup or underground restaurant where diners are given a special invitation to join as a professional chef or aspiring chef cooks a fabulous meal for them. It can also refer to a group that visits different restaurants or cooks together at a club member’s home.
The Culinary Hedonism Supper Club is a little of both. Created by the talented Chef Peter Calley, previously of Portland, this supper club is an adventure in dining and socializing. Chef Calley’s dishes are born of the Slow Food movement and are geared toward the “conscientious omnivore” looking for a more intimate dining experience.
The supper club is hosted by the lovely and gregarious Audrey Jacobs. It had been previously hosted in North Park, but the supper club is moving to a new regular location in Rancho Santa Fe! Audrey loves to entertain guests and had always wanted to open her dinners up to soon-to-be friends who shared a love of good food and conversation. Her idea was to create something akin to the salons of the 1920’s. She takes her job as hostess seriously, making sure all guests are comfortable and enjoying themselves.
Dinners (and now brunches) are served to a select group of twelve soon-to-be friends, six men and six women, who share a passion for food and life. Some meals are a mix of couples and singles, there for a decadent evening and some delicious conversation. Other meals are singles only, so if you’re hoping a friendship blossoms into something more, well… why not?
How do you join this club?
It’s simple, really. Events are posted on Facebook and the Culinary Hedonism website. (Heads up: You can like an event all you want, but reservations must be made through the website.) Once Peter receives your request to attend, you’ll get a response from him telling you a little more about the dining experience.
The email also gives instructions about the evening, including arrival time and what to expect. He also explains that texts and calls can’t be answered within an hour of arrival time, so if there are any last minute questions, it’s best to shoot them over before that time.
Guests are encouraged to bring a bottle of something to share as well as “a bit of your soul” to share in the form of a story, song, quote, poem or joke to enliven the conversation. Some of the sharing I’ve experienced at these dinners and brunches have been beautiful readings, a bad joke about a nun, the experience of reading a particular book, and one of the most amazing duets by an otherwise unassuming couple. It’s always something wonderful… except for that one bad joke.
What’s on the menu?
What does Chef Calley prepare for this supper club? It’s always a pleasant surprise. His desire is to create a memorable experience with each dish. “When I’m creating a menu, it’s basically like a song. I approach the whole meal as music with melody, harmony, and rhythm.”
He also considers where and how the menu items are grown, raised, and harvested. “I have a great respect for traditional culinary techniques, but I also want to try new things. I like to reflect in my menus what farmers are growing.”
If you want to guess at what he might serve, you can follow the Culinary Hedonism Instagram feed. Personally, I like the mystery of not knowing who will be there or what we’ll be served.
Here’s a recent dinner menu to give you a better feel for what you’ll be enjoying:
- Sourdough topped with Anchovy in Beurre de Baratte with Rat Tail Radish and Borage Flower
- Seared Maine Scallop + Miso Glaze, served with Beluga Lentils, Preserved Lemon, and Persillade
- Roasted Heirloom Beets, topped with Brûléed Ibores Cheese, Pea Tendrils, Toasted Fennel Seed, Pine Nuts, and a Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
- House-made Tortellini, stuffed with Braised Venison, Juniper, Zinfandel Wine, Applewood-Smoked Gooseberries, and Coriander Blossom
- Scotch Egg + Ground Lamb with Horseradish Labneh, Crispy Peanut Greens, and Radish Sprouts
- Rabbit Saddle Roulade + Prosciutto
- African Blue Basil and Hazelnut Pesto topped with Green Tomato Marinara
- Raspberry and Thyme Clafoutis, served with Crème Fraîche Ice Cream and Orange Zest
Getting to know each other over food…
Audrey greets guests as they arrive and introduces diners to each other with a little nugget of how she came to know them or a bit of their personality that she wants to share with other. During dinner, she masterfully keeps the conversation going between tasting by asking guests to share that little bit of soul they brought. She’ll never put anyone on the spot, always gently nudging the sharing, sometimes with a little more wine and a sweet smile.
The brief stories, songs, poems, and insights that are shared are the magic that make this dinner a wonderful social experience. You get a flash of those artful salons from the 20’s that Audrey wanted to bring back to life. Suddenly, all those strangers are people you can imagine meeting up with for a glass of wine or a hike or a movie in the park.
Culinary Hedonism does cooking classes, too!
Why throw another boring party? Invite a private chef into your home to share his techniques for making unique and delicious food!
Chef Calley hosts cooking classes for the fine diner who wants to create a sumptuous meal at home. Attendees make amazing food in the comfort and convenience of their own home. He’s even been known to host classes at offices! Classes include a wide array of cuisines and cooking methods, and Chef works directly with you in creating a memorable and indulgent experience for you and your friends, family, or co-workers.
Now that you know what The Culinary Hedonism Supper Club is all about, it’s time to have an adventure and reserve your spot! And to stay on top of their latest events, like their Facebook page. Dinners are always shared there, but remember… reservations need to be made on the site.