Save the date, and thoughts on a November menu

Next supperclub is set to be on Saturday November 24th. Once again it will be in the wonderful café at Macknade Fine Foods in Faversham. The menu is still shaping up but there’s bound to be some game, probably pigeon or maybe partridge. I am thinking that a Scandi inspired selection of cured fish might be good – I do make a mean cured salmon…and perhaps an excuse for Aquavit?
Then it’s a question of whether to do a cheese course or not? I wanted to make the cheese but have left it too late for the Camembert-style but still (just) enough time to make a fresh cheese.
Pudding was going to be light and fruity but the weatherman says a chill is coming so how about individual sticky toffee puddings with an absurd amount of toffee sauce?
So, as ever there are still decisions to be made and testing to be done, but that’s half the fun!

All important feedback

I had some lovely emails and tweets after the last supperclub, here’s a selection. So if you have been wondering whether it’s your kind of thing then don’t just take my word for it…

“We are itching to get along to another one and we will bring some friends this time as well”

“….lovely fish and the flavour with the cockles was delicious.
I enjoyed the desert but my wife went nuts for it. She has said to me that it’s one of the best desserts she has ever had!”

“It was a great evening with food that was prepared and presented out of a passion for food and cooking . I write a great deal about service attention to detail giving clients or guests an experience to remember to talk about one that makes them want more. What you did and gave created for us all this and more . It’s something to be very proud of . We look forward to attending another one of your gastronomic evenings”

“We all really enjoyed our evening with you, the food was delicious and there was a lovely ambiance”

“Whilst the venue is great it is still the food that counts and I have to agree the pudding was fantastic, as was the main. It was great hearing the folk next to us asking about gurnard and where to get it, all part of the process!!”

“@emwilco We really enjoyed our 1st #emwilcosupperclub Looking forward to the next one!”

“@stefangates You missed a great supper club last night! @emwilco surpassed herself”

Save the date!



The next supper club at Macknade will be on Saturday 29th September. I have started to plan the menu which will be seasonal and local of course. So you can expect some game, cobnuts, late plums….

If you want to make sure that you hear about the menu and booking details then fill in the contact section of the blog and I will add you to my mailing list.

As ever there will be up to 30 like-minded people, four courses and a glass of fizz to kick off, all for £30.

Supperclub number 2

Last Saturday a crowd of keen foodies gathered at Macknade for the second supper club. It was lovely to meet so many new people, many of whom didn’t know about the beautiful cafe that has been created within the most characterful part of the ever changing Macknade site. Thanks again to all at Macknade for being so welcoming and accommodating and especially to Stefano who was able to join us this time.

Once again we were blessed with beautiful evening sunshine and we set up a long table almost the length of the cafe and dressed with fresh flowers from the garden.

The wonderful Ottolenghi inspired salad calls for a lot of quick blanching and cooling of beans and peas so that you end up with a wonderfully bright green, crunchy dish.
The starter was wild rabbit terrine, with cornichons from Opies in nearby Sitttingbourne and served with my homemade rye sourdough.
Then onto roast quail from Godmersham Game, marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, sumac, garlic and pomegranate molasses, served whole on platters with baba ganoush, which I was particularly proud to be able to make with Kent grown aubergines, sourced from Canterbury’s Goods Shed.
Pudding was a super rich, flourless chocolate torte with a layer of pralinéed almonds giving great texture and flavour. I served it with cherry compote, grated dark chocolate and the most sublime vanilla ice cream from Simply Ice cream which is made by the very talented Sarah Newall. I have to say the texture of Sarah’s ice cream is amazing, like velvet, and even when it warmed up and the spare (for which read chef’s) portion had sat in the kitchen for a good while it kept its shape, not turning into a puddle as so many others would.

After the chocolate, which I realised afterwards was in some ways a deconstructed and retrouvé Black Forest gateau, there was a small breather before I sent out the cheeseboards, a selection of four locally made cheeses, homemade oatcakes 20120729-213617.jpg
and homemade fresh gooseberry pickle (for which there were requests to take a jar home, so watch this space….)
When you have been planning the menu, thinking about the recipes, sourcing ingredients and then cooking on the night, one of the biggest kicks is this  – to see the smiling faces and a line of clean plates!


Thanks to everyone who came, to all of the suppliers and producers whose raw ingredients inspire me and also a big thank you to my friend Olly who came along and was a fantastic, faultless sous chef!

Demo cooking on the ‘farm’

I can’t tell you how exciting it was to arrive at Lounge on the Farm late on Friday evening and come across this blackboard as we explored the site. (We can put aside the fact that my charming children, when asked to comment on whether there was anything notable about this sign said first “Wow! Stefan Gates!!”….well fair enough I suppose)

The excitement gradually built to nerves over the course of Saturday morning and then something approaching sheer terror by 1.30 when I had to go and get my microphone, cross my fingers and hope for an audience!

Having sent through my recipes and requirements in advance the brilliant Alan, a home economist who has done this sort of thing a  thousand times before, had everything prepped and ready to set up the demo – even down to making up chappati dough so I could utter the immortal line “here’s some I prepared earlier” – although as I am useless fibber I said “here’s some that someone else kindly made earlier”. His skill becomes particularly apparent when you look at how beautiful it all looks in the clever overhead mirror.

Then it was off to get a ‘Madonna-mike” as it became known, and with a quick pep talk “just have fun!” and a big hug from the real star of the afternoon Mr Stefan Gates, it was kick off. I made the mackerel starter from Supperclub number one – without the gratin as it would have taken way too long.

Next I made a Goan fish curry, with a beautiful bream, cut into smallish steaks and bones still in, packed full of chillies and tamarind paste served with some fresh chappatis. My greatest delight was the queue of people, most of them children (so not all down to festival induced munchies) who piled into the spice with no fear and came back for more. 

The full recipes are on the “chef chat” pages of the new Eat Drink Kent website – would love to hear if you give them a try.

Did I have fun? yes…eventually. Would I do it again? Maybe if I was asked to. Do I prefer cooking without narrating? Yes definitely (which as anyone who knows me well will tell you, comes as a bit of a surprise!)

Emwilco supperclub goes to the ‘Farm’

Starting the supper club is a first, tentative, step on what I hope will be an exciting journey towards more full-time food based employment. I have no fixed timetable and am happy for this journey to take a while. I was delighted then that before I had even delivered the first dinner, Rob aka “Farmhouse Cooks” and one of the founders of Lounge on the Farm, was in touch to ask if I wanted a spot at this year’s festival. With the proverb “Fortune Favours the brave” in mind I agreed and so here I am, two days away and starting to get a little nervous.

Having never cooked for an audience, let alone in a tent, in a field at a music festival, the key will be to keep things simple. I also want to keep true to the ’emwilco supperclub’ ethos of local and seasonal, whilst allowing the international influence to come through too.

Having chatted to Clare who is producing the ‘Kitchen’ tent, and considering what the other chefs will be doing, we agreed that it would  be good to focus on fish. The starter at the last supper club was a hit so that’s one dish sorted, Pan fried mackerel fillet with beetroot/horseradish ‘slaw and  a zingy sorrel salad. Next choice uses local fish but with spicy punch. Goan fish curry, steamed rice and chapatis – I love making these, the simplest of breads. There’s theatre in the final stage as you place them directly on an open flame and they puff up and blacken, all from a little wholemeal flour and water.

If you’re going to be at LOTF do pop in and say hello, I’m on at 2pm on Saturday.

Exciting development

Great chat with Rob from The Farmhouse in Canterbury and it looks like I may well be doing a little demo slot in the cooking tent at Lounge on the Farm. Crikey! So a slice of #emwilcosupperclub, in half an hour, in a tent, at a festival. Who would have seen that on the cards 3 months ago?

Next supperclub

I realise that I still haven’t written up the last one properly, and I will, but in the meantime I have been asked several times if there will be another….and happily there will on Saturday 21st July. Once again I will be at Macknade in their wonderful cafe and the produce will be locally sourced and seasonal, although it is hard to tell which season we are currently in – “Flaming June” anyone?

Some early thoughts include skate cheeks, a rabbit terrine, certainly broad beans, cherries in there somewhere if the rain doesn’t cause them all to split, gooseberry fool with elderflower syrup which I will be making this weekend, maybe some bresaola served with an astonishingly delicious mustard ice cream (if I can work out how it was made) inspired by my recent trip to Somerset and a memorable evening at Woods of Dulverton. If you are ever even close then I could not recommend it more – I have a feeling it may always be ‘memorable’ and not always but possibly because of landlord Paddy’s sloe gin…

So as you can tell there’s work to be done on slimming down the choices – I’m not sure I’m ready for a nine course tasting menu! One or two people have asked if I could offer vegetarian options and whilst I would love to accommodate different dietary needs, the supper club premise is to offer a set menu and keep it simple. I am though more than happy to put on an event entirely celebrating vegetables if there would be enough takers, so do let me know via the contact page if you would be interested.

Meanwhile it’s on with the planning and an anti-rain dance might be useful.

Images of a summer evening

Words will follow to describe the very first supper club, just as soon as I can, but in the meantime a small selection of beautiful pictures taken by the very talented Lesley Davies-Evans. It was a wonderful event and thank you to everyone who came and made it so much fun. Extra special thanks to Macknade and Stefano for letting me use their wonderful space.