The supper club is invading homes and secret locations all over town. Join Totally Stockholm in going out to eat in.
“Supper clubs are generally a much more sociable experience than a regular visit to a restaurant. One goes there to meet other guests, which is an uncommon occurrence when generally eating out,” says Anders Rydell, writer, foodie and organizer of Stockholm’s Food Film dinner event.
“Supper clubs can also be a much more niche and nerdy experience than a restaurant, where it is possible to immerse oneself with like-minded people. You can spend a whole night on topics such as herbs grown in western Sweden, Jura wines or Eastern European broths.”
Food Film, a supper club that combines two favoured pastimes of many Swedes, is part of the upsurge of new and innovative supper clubs currently popping up all over town. It aims to replace TV dinners with well-cooked meals, shared with other food enthusiasts.
Officially, the proper supper club was invented in Beverly Hills, California, and quickly became popular all over the USA and in the mid-western states in particular. During the 1930’s and 1940’s, they were usually found on the edge of town and often referred to as prohibition roadhouses. In larger cities, such as New York and London, the typical supper club carried a bit of an underground vibe, providing food, good company and entertainment to a select few in the know. There is proof though, that supper clubs have been a common occurrence in South America and in Cuba as a way for the organizer or host to make a little money without investing in a proper restaurant, and for patrons to eat well at low cost.
Perhaps spurred by the global down turn in the economy and a will to eat fancy foods without having to spend an arm and a leg doing it, the more recent iteration of the supper club is said to have gotten a renewed lease of life around 2008. There is also the social aspect of the supper club; more often than not, you get together with a small group of people, whom you may or may not know. And the assembly usually takes place at the home of the host.
The supper club scene of the Swedish capital is still burgeoning, but so far it seems to consist of an enthusiastic but limited group of both professionals and amateurs alike that, for a relatively modest fee, provide fancy eats to clamouring patrons.
“Until recently, we haven’t had such an evolved restaurant scene in Sweden. Swedes don’t have the tradition of going out for meals that frequently. We have most of our meals at home, much more so than other Europeans,” says Rydell.
“There is a huge interest in food today – an interest that isn’t just confined to gastronomy but also covers food production, environment and a way for an urbanized generation to reconnect with nature. Swedes tend to be extremely nerdy about things.
A nerdiness so strong it seems, judging from the popularity of supper clubs, that it conquers the social anxiety disorder often attributed to the stereotypical stony Swede…
Q&A with Daniel Roos, supper club host and award-winning dessert magician:
What do you personally consider being the first and foremost advantage of the supper club phenomenon compared to going out to a regular restaurant?
In my own case, I always offer my guests a greater dessert experience than they would ever have anywhere in Sweden, regardless of what restaurant it is. Another advantage is that the number of guests is six at a time, and as they all sit at the same table it kind of forces people to interact with one another. It’s great to see that, even if they come from incredibly different backgrounds and walks of life, people will always find a common ground and find interesting topics to discuss. If that weren’t the case, the common guest is usually a foodie, so there’s always that to talk about.
While fairly common in Europe, USA and the rest of the world, our fair country is not exactly swarming with supper clubs. Why do you suppose this is?
For starters we are a very small country. Then there is the intrinsic social aspect to consider – Swedes are in general rather reserved. Most of us just barely greet and acknowledge our next-door neighbour with a shy nod. Having strangers over unfortunately just does not come natural to us.
The set-up of your own supper club My Table differs from the regular ones in that it totally revolve around desserts. Tell us what made you come up with this idea?
First of all, I love making desserts. Secondly, the minute I stopped working in the restaurant business, former patrons started e-mailing me about their cravings for my desserts. This made a perfect foundation to start my own variety of a supper club. This was about the time during which I had participated and won a gold medal in the 2012 Food Olympics. I wanted out of competing professionally. This idea then proved to be a good and inspiring project to tinker with, as well as develop and improve my own passion for desserts.
Tell us about a typical supper club event at your place?
My girlfriend [Sanna Lithberg, who is also a pastry chef] and I start serving the first dessert at 19.30 and from that point we keep going for roughly three and a half hours of steady dessert service. I tell them stories about every dish, including what kinds of ingredients I use. I go through the steps on how to make them and since it all happens right there in the kitchen, where everybody can see me work, the guests can ask questions as we go along.
Gotta eat, right?
Make the most of your dinner by attending one of the following seven supper clubs in Stockholm.
Most people like film. Most people like food. So why not merge the two?
This is the brilliantly simple idea behind Food Film, a concept created by writers Anders Rydell and Johan Lindskog and Michelin-starred chef Niklas Ekstedt.
The event starts out with a flick about food at Zita cinema, followed by foods and drinks following the same theme at restaurant Niklas.
Supper club Hemma hos Linn is just what the Swedish name implies: a meal served in chef Linn Söderström’s own home. Organic and natural produce are important components in the mix, where a group of random people sit down and share an intimate meal together.
One of Sweden’s leading sweet-tooths, pastry chef Daniel Roos (in charge of the desserts at crown princess Victoria’s wedding) is the man behind what is perhaps the county’s most exclusive supper club.
At My Table, Roos serves up an array of equally sweet and innovative dishes from his desserts-only menu. The six guests are all seated at his own kitchen table.
At the semi-anonymous Facebook page, you’ll find the following instructions: “Show up at Mariatorget 2 at 7 pm, and bring SEK 50. If you want to drink anything but carbonated water, bring your own. And stay as long as you like, but you run the risk of your hostess falling asleep before you leave”. Sounds like a night to remember.
Real-life couple Sabina and Daniel started Stockholmsmiddagar in their quest to find new friends when relocating to Stockholm. A few years later, Stockholmsmiddagar is still going strong at their home , and we’re wondering if they are really bad at making friends after all.
Check out the website for updates on when, where and what.
Run by Tove and Rebecca, Stockholm Supper Club’s handful of events has covered diverse edible topics such as Tex-Mex, Thanksgiving and make-your-own-pizzas. The menus along with conditions are published online prior to the event, and photos of previous affairs are also to be seen online. Diners pay the cost price (approximately SEK 200) before attending.
At Stockholm Social, the emphasis as somewhat more businesslike, with secret dinners (secret due to the fact that the final address isn’t released until the day before the event) arranged for networking. The price includes an aperitif and a three-course meal.
Words by Magnus Wittbjer and Micha van Dinther