Anyone who has ever been new to a city knows what it is like to try and make new friends. If you're in the city for work purposes, there is a good chance that you will soon be associating with colleagues and your life may seem to involve much more work than you would like.
If you have ever been to an event hosted by one of these groups though, you may have found it difficult to actually meet people in a meaningful way. You speak to someone for a few minutes and then move on to the next person.
Welcome to the Supper Club!
Supper clubs are not a new idea, but they are a counter culture to big restaurants and also go by names such as underground restaurants, home bistros, guerrilla dinners, secret restaurants, paladares, puertas cerradas, guestaurants, speakeasy or even anti-restaurants.
However, most supper clubs have their own unique names like Love Poppy, The Outlawed Epicurean, and Fisk & Gröönsaken, just to name a few. Their main purpose is to provide a meal and a chance for people to sit down together and socialize.
With many wanting to return to slow foods, taking time to enjoy their meals as well as company, it is no wonder that supper clubs are popping up all over the place and are quickly filling up. Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter allow for these impromptu restaurants to post an event and fill up within hours - or even minutes!
Some cities like New York, London and Paris have many supper clubs, offering events every week. Some of the clubs even have waiting lists. However, the idea is new to Zurich and it took a passionate American to make it happen. In its sixth month of existence, One Night Stand was founded by chef Michael Goguen and is attracting Swiss and expats alike.
I asked Mike Goguen what inspired him to start a supper club, what he likes about it, and to talk about the Swiss experience.
"I wanted to do something different and fresh in Zurich's food scene. I wouldn’t say that Zurich has a bad food scene, but it does lack a degree of creativity save a few restaurants. Supper club is great for allowing me as a chef to come up with unique flavor combinations and menus, while attracting new and interesting people together over what I hope they'll consider a fantastic and original meal paired with some amazing wines."
Speaking on what he likes about life in Switzerland, he said:
"Living in Switzerland is great because I love the outdoors and sports. In a few minutes I'm in the forested hills of Zurich or cycling up Switzerland’s famous alpine passes. From a chef's perspective, I love the abundance of fresh produce available at the markets. I source as much as I can locally and in season. This is an essential part of my cooking philosophy and challenges my creativity. I also know that chefs in Zurich like Jack McNutty from Laughing Lemon will totally agree. Of course, I also love being in the middle of Europe and in a few hours with a plane or train being in other food meccas like Paris, London, Rome, or even Munich."
I also spoke to some of the guests at a recent event, and here is what local Dominic Millioud had to say about Zurich’s Supper Club:
"I absolutely love the new tastes I always experience at a supper club. This kind of crossover food is new to me. There are combinations I've never dreamed of. Plus the excellent mix of people and the cool locations. It's definitely one of my food highlights in Zürich!"
He also wanted to know whether there were season tickets... And Alexandre Salomon testified:
"Chef Goguen's use of fresh, seasonal ingredients to create balanced flavors and well styled plates certainly doesn't disappoint. Of the seven courses we were served, the meltingly tender and perfectly cooked local lamb was an absolute highlight!"
Other guests told me that the dinners at the Supper Club are "exceptionally sophisticated and original cuisine served in a relaxed setting and an interesting mix of international and local company."
Writer Liz Henry echoed chef Goguen's philosophy when she said:
"I could go on about the current American food renaissance and how I'm glad to see it taking this form here in Zurich. It seems fitting that Mike is so dedicated to local produce as it is in line with the greater awareness of food and agriculture - a la Urban Farmers in Zurich."
One thing was for sure from all the people I spoke with: The food is brilliant and the company is world class!
I would also like to mention that Mike Goguen has his own catering company – Melt Catering here in Zurich, so anyone looking for a culinary experience for their business or in the comfort of their own home would do well to contact him...
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