Young Manchester Entrepreneur Monica Sawhney (22) launched her Manchester Supper Club “The Spice Club” in September 2010, to critical acclaim. Every other week, she opens her home to a group of strangers for an evening of egalitarian dining – where investment bankers, teachers, students, tourists, artists, philosophers, doctors and more sit around the same table enjoying decadent home cooked Indian food – prepared by her, and her family. The events are run in secret, with guests finding out the dining location on the day- being greeted by Monica and her family, and seated in a beautifully themed part of their home. Underground supper clubs have sprung up to great success in cities from London to New York and Tokyo. These events, run by a mixture of top-chef’s and independents, provide an alternative to restaurant dining, and a wonderful social experience.
Monica is passionate about food, and this comes through in her guest’s reviews, citing their experiences as, “More than great-spectacular. Must be best Indian food ever” and “Fabulous food, not available anywhere in the North West. Wonderful hosts“. “These events are a truly wonderful experience for us, and our guests” says Monica, “Our supper club gives them the opportunity to experience Indian food as it should be, a really diverse range of dishes, prepared freshly, by the family, with a new menu every time.” Talking about the social aspects of the experience, “It sounds like a cliché, but I know a lot of friendships have started at supper clubs. Guests come on their own, in couples, or as groups, and because the environment is so intimate- well, our dining room! they cannot help but chat and get to know each other. The atmosphere is really wonderful and private, and we find increasingly that we are getting regular diners bringing friends. We have even had a number of private bookings where customers have wanted a supper club hosted just for them.”
Monica doesn’t charge a specific amount to diners, but simply has a suggested minimum donation of £20 which contributes towards the cost of running the event, a proportion of which goes to help a number of charities from her family home-town of Jaipur in North-India. A graduate of UCF in Florida in Hospitality, Monica is keen to ensure guests receive a dining experience which wouldn’t be out-of-place in a Michelin starred restaurant. “To me, it’s really important that a supper club is run just like a restaurant. We work to exceed all health and safety standards which you would expect, and we also work really hard to ensure that all our guests, from the moment they are greeted, to the moment they leave, receive a really special fine-dining experience. I like to create a story, and make sure that from start to finish- the magic is retained.”
The success of these supper clubs has meant Monica often has a queue for bookings, and is soon to take the events weekly from fortnightly to cope with the demand. Monica has also hosted many leading food journalists and critics at the dinner, alongside bookings from many top companies, who want to host supper clubs with her for their senior staff. Monica also writes a popular food blog (www.SpiceDiary.com) where she posts stunning Indian food recipes for her readers around the world to make themselves.