House Nights: Supper clubs are back thanks to Spoons
In collaboration with creative collective Faces from the East, last night Indonesian plant-based Spoons proved why it’s one of the most exciting supper clubs in London
Friday 10 October 2022 By Gisselle Babaran Photography by Danny Chan
As part of a series of dinner events at 180 House, showcasing some of the most exciting independent practitioners in London, Soho House invited Rahel Stephanie – the woman behind Spoons supper club – to cook a three-course meal showcasing Indonesian flavours, in collaboration with creative collective Faces from the East.
With a cult-like following, Stephanie’s supper club tickets have been known to sell out in seconds. Starting out from a love for cooking as well as frustration of the co-opting and appropriation of the food of her home country, she cooks and serves Indonesian dishes as a way of reclaiming, decolonising and celebrating the plant-based foods of her heritage.
Could you tell us how you arrived at the concept of Spoons?
‘I moved to the UK almost 10 years ago. It was my first time moving away from home, and because Indonesian food hasn’t really established itself here – even in the present day – as much as other East and Southeast Asian foods, I longed for it.
‘I’ve always enjoyed cooking leisurely and would throw dinner parties often, so my friend Nicole introduced me to the idea of a supper club, essentially ticketed dinner parties. The first one I held was met with a lot of positive responses by friends and friends of friends, and it eventually grew to become what it is today.’
What does cooking mean to you?
‘Cooking food in general is more than just creating tasty dishes. It’s very much my medium of reconnecting with and learning more about my heritage and culture. From living in the UK for the past few years, I’ve noticed a lot of appropriations and misinterpretation of Indonesian food, and that was a big encouragement for me to use supper clubs to educate people about elements of my cuisine that may have been misconceived.’
How would you describe Indonesian food to the uninitiated?
‘That’s a tricky question as Indonesia is a country made out of more than 17,000 islands, over 300 ethnicities, and each region is just so different. It’s difficult to pinpoint or define what Indonesian food is in general, but what I can say is in terms of the flavour, it’s just so complex. The commonalities between regions is that we love rice and we love spice – we have sambal with most of our dishes. It’s very fragrant.’
Is authenticity important to your cooking?
‘What’s important to me is context. I don’t think you always have to be creating authentic food. You can serve something and say it’s inspired by an authentic dish, but it’s your interpretation of it. For me, the biggest considerations I put into the menus I design is that I include a range of Indonesian regions in the dishes. For example, I’ll have something from Java, North Sumatra, South Sumatra and Bali – just to show people what my country has to offer.
‘I love to experiment, too – mostly with my desserts. I’m known for my pandan blondies. I also like to take traditional cakes and bake them in different moulds or add my own plant-based custards. These are riffs on authentic dishes while still paying respect to tradition, but creating it as my own.’
What’s next for Spoons?
‘I’ll be doing two more supper clubs at Soho House and a few more this year. And I’m travelling to Indonesia and Australia in November and December to host some events, but also to escape the cold. I’m just going to continue what I’m doing and see where it all takes me.’
Founded by Danny Chan, Faces from the East is a collaborative community made of UK based Asian creatives, whose mission is to promote and showcase talent, as well as encourage thoughtful conversations around representation in creative industries.
To catch the next Spoons supper club, click here.