“It’s one of the things we all love about this place: it’s black, it’s white, it’s Spanish, French, Canadian, Italian, African-who the hell knows? Whatever it is today, it’s a strange and wonderful mutation, a hell broth of colors, flavors, and influences that could have only happened here.” -Quote: Unknown
Originating in the midwest, the idea of a supper club typically referred to a dining establishment serving food, offering entertainment, and was a destination where one would spend the evening in a relaxed atmosphere. With the farm-to-table movement gaining in popularity, the idea of Supper Club has taken on a new meaning. Being that many of us are paying more attention to where our food comes from and the fact that we are simply a social society, a supper club has become a “place”, a home, a space, where friends and strangers can come together for the simple enjoyment of locally sourced food and good company.
And there are moments in time when events, people, and places merge from multiple ideas into one seamless evening of friends, warmth, and edible pairings that leave you wanting to experience the elements of the night over and over again. The taste of the peppery oyster, the glow of the flickering candles, or the warmth of the whiskey cocktail. A Night in New Orleans Supper Club was indeed an evening like this. Being there, one found themselves stepping back into another time and place, leaving behind only the fondest of memories.
When planning for the supper club, host & chef, Tania White told stylist Conni Jespersen about what gave her the idea to focus on the diverse city of New Orleans. “New Orleans has such a rich history. It’s not just about the history behind why people ate Po Boys, or the uniqueness of the Creole dishes, it’s about the subculture within the city that give it such richness.” This set the stage for building a story around her New Orleans idea with stylist, Conni Jespersen, of Art in the Find.
The inspiration behind the styling was found in the depth of New Orleans’ history. The richness of the Art Nouveau architecture, the stories of hauntings & ghosts that make up the city’s past, gave way to the dark, rich colors, of greens, steel greys, cool blues & deep reds. Ideas, like using French lanterns, patterned rugs, and velvet furnishings, so widely used in New Orleans architectural styles, tied in the Spanish and French influences.
The setting of the supper club was in the craftsman style home of hosts Tania White & Chantal Pasag. San Diego’s mild climate gave the hosts an opportunity to allow their guests to dine inside and enjoy cocktails outdoors on the front patio. The home had a rich, historical, intimate feel. When styling the supper club, Conni wanted to keep with the feel of the home and bring in elements that brought out the intimacy of the home and would allow guests to feel surrounded by the warmth of the elements around them.
What does it take to plan a supper club of your own? When planning or styling an event, always think about what will make guests feel comfortable. Think of an inviting space that’s intimate and will bring guests together, whether strangers or friends. When seating guests, place people who know one another apart from each other so they can engage in new conversations with those they want to get to know. (You many want to think about this when planning your guests list. Who will bring good conversation? Who will be a good listener? A good speaker? Good around stranger? Make people feel comfortable?)
One key to a delightful supper club is to build around a theme you love. New Orleans was a place that gave the hosts and stylists great inspiration and they were able to build ideas out of a few key places, pictures, and pieces of history that brought the story to life. Then, build a menu from there. Host & Chef, Tania White, researched the history of New Orleans, as well as pulled recipes that brought out the richness and diversity that New Orleans has to offer. Also, music is key. Building a playlist from songs that play on your theme (jazz being so New Orleans, was played throughout dinner) will help to enrich that intimate vibe to brings warmth to a supper club. (A dinner guest played piano music as entertainment at the end of the night, while guests enjoyed cocktails on the front patio.)
Another element to a successful supper club is to have guests play an interactive role in the dinner, as both guest, diner, and “performer”. Ask your guests to bring something to the table. Whether it’s mixing a cocktail of their choice to align with the menu, or styling the event (Conni used her role as a stylist to decorate for the event, then became a guest at dinner), or playing music to lighten the mood. When your guests have a hand in an element of the supper club, it brings a sense of togetherness and pride which creates an unforgettable evening with friends, new and old.
We hope this inspires you for your Thanksgiving dinner!
Author: Conni Jespersen Stylist: Conni Jespersen, Art in the Find Photography: Chantal Pasag Event: A Night in New Orleans Supper Club Location: The Gunn Street Supper Club, San Diego, CA Chef Tania White & Sous Chef Gabrielle Jones Cocktails: RX Bitters Co. Food: Bread & Cie Bakery, Easy Cake Productions, Carlsbad Aquafarm, Catalina Offshore Products Table: Jason Brown Carpentry