One of my favourite things about working in the food industry is how supportive it is. Everyone genuinely wants their peers to do well and be it a book launch or the opening of a new restaurant, people come out in force to support one another. Of course by nature of subjectivity, we may not always agree on the end result, but with this difference of opinion comes no animosity.
I particularly love seeing what people I went to Leiths with are doing now, whether they are running their own catering company, working as a chef at one of London’s best restaurants, writing a book or cooking for the stars. The variety of work being undertaken is astonishing; the further you get into the industry the more you realise how many different jobs there are.
On Thursday I was honoured to be invited to one of the monthly supper clubs held by Amba Chefs, a bespoke catering company set up by Alison, Monica, Beth and Angela – four extraordinarily talented chefs who I had the pleasure of going to Leiths with.
The super clubs take place at their shared catering unit in Battersea. The industrial kitchen strewn with pretty fairy lights, provided an impressive backdrop for the dining area, where 40 guests can be seated. The result is a space that feels warm, cosy and brings the meaning of an open kitchen to a whole new level.
This month’s supper club was a nod to Monica’s Spanish heritage and the food, by contrast to their previous events, was served sharing style. I love this way of dining especially as a format for a supper club. The informality puts people at ease whilst strongly nudging table interaction. Even better, aside from a beautiful Blood orange mimosa on arrival, the event was BYOB. What could be better on the Thursday before Easter…
To start we had an Iberico charcuterie and cheese board with home made quince jelly. Everything on the board was delicious but the two stand out produce were the beef chorizo and the Espadam cheese,a a crumbly, tangy, goats cheese that I have not tried before.
Next and undoubtedly the most appreciated course of the evening (our table had seconds) was the Croqueta selection: chicken, wild mushroom with truffle and squid. The wild mushroom croquetas were perfectly balanced with truffle but it was the squid that stole the show. We loved its striking black appearance and the contrast of the crisp shell against the meltingly sweet centre that worked perfectly with a punchy aioli.
Chargrilled octopus and roasted red pepper with mojo verde provided a welcome freshness after the meat, cheese and croquetas. The octopus was cooked beautifully and the sweetness of the peppers helped balance the smokiness making for a tasty, light dish.
The last savoury course, Rioja braised ox cheeks with manchego mac and cheese was seasoned beautifully however as a dish it felt at odds with the clarity of the rest of the menu. It would have been better placed on a menu for an American supper club. The mac and cheese diverted attention away from the ox cheek, which having been lovingly slow cooked in Spanish red wine, should have been the star. Preferably, the ox cheek would have been served on its own, covered in its cooking juices with a little bread.
We finished the evening with a Seville orange flan, which was a thing of beauty. Reading flan on the menu didn’t fill me with an immense amount of excitement, yet it was one of the tastiest desserts I have eaten this year. The oranges were caramelized to perfection, having been taken dark enough that the resulting syrup, not sickly sweet, was positively addictive.
If I could describe the night in three words it would be: bold with simplicity. From the no frills tortilla canapé to the orange flan, superb execution meant that the produce and flavour triumphed. If this is an Amba Chef supperclub, one can only salivate about how good their catering must be. Girls, you smashed it.
Happy Easter x
Apologises about the pictures. It was rather dark inside.
Amba Chefs Supper Club, London Cooking Project, 1 Ethelburga Street, London SW11 4AG £ 8/10