Ellie and Rosie established a ‘pop up diner’ in their flat above the market in the heart of Brixton earlier this year. Jokingly referred to as the Salad Club the monthly Saturday night underground restaurant serves delicious four course meals in their front room.
Eager to go underground and experience Pop Up dining for ourselves four of us booked online a couple of month’s in advance (such is the Salad Club’s popularity), we received details about the menu and venue by email the day before and set off on a culinary adventure.
Curious about how Salad Club started I interviewed Ellie the following week:
So how did the idea of Salad Club come about?
Rosie and I have always cooked for each other since we met at university – obviously we’re much better and have bigger budgets than we did back then. Salad Club itself was born of our weekly catch ups when we both moved South.
We’d go to this really vigorous, physically exhausting Soca Aerobucs class together on a Monday night and then have supper – all we could manage to put together was a salad. Over time though, the salads – which started off as throwing together whatever was in the fridge – got better and better. Each week was something to look forward to; such a simple thing – a meal at the kitchen table with good, fresh food and some wine. It’s exactly how we like eating – informal, straightforward and friendly. We started calling the meals ‘Salad Club’ and then progressed to the blog and then the secret suppers. It’s all a way of bringing together things that we love – cooking, writing and photography. We’re both creative, so Salad Club is a great and rewarding challenge for us on a visual, logistic and culinary level.
How do people hear of it?
They follow us on Twitter, Facebook or through our Blog.
And what are the challenges and/or pitfalls of running ‘pop up dining’ events?
We’re both very efficient so we tend to make things run pretty smoothly naturally, actually! Obviously you have to be aware of budgeting, portions, communication, a great menu, all those evident things. People always ask us if we worry about strangers coming in and making a mess of things or throwing tantrums. To be honest, it’s never even crossed our minds. That’s probably the least of our concerns!
Are there any other Pop Up Diners or Pop Up Galleries in South London?
There’s plenty going on – Frank’s Campari bar was in Peckham until recently, there’s the Saltoun Supper Club in Brixton, the Savoy Truffle Supper Club in Blackheath and a ton of galleries and exhibition spaces. You have to really be online or in any of the industries to know, I suppose, but these things have suddenly become very fashionable and are of course being courted by the media.
The role of social media is really interesting – how and where do you see it developing?
Yes, definitely. I always thought people who have blogs were really sad until I started my own! It’s only now that I can see just how many amazing connections it enables for you – we have met so many interesting, wonderful motivated people through our food. Whether that’s suppliers, diners, photographers, stylists, journalists, film-makers, antiques dealers, market stall holders, writers…the list goes on.
One thing that always strikes me is just how friendly people are online. The difference between who and what attitudes you experience on the street and those you find through doing creative things such as these is huge. On the street we’re all pushing past each other and throwing off other people’s glances. By running Salad C lub we seem to have welcomed in a bunch of complete strangers to my flat and made it work – it brings people together every time. Who was it that said ‘a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet’? that’s how it goes and all these things have been advanced with social media and networking sites.
We ask our followers questions all day on twitter and we get immediate responses. I agree that some of it’s rubbish and time-wasting but for example, Rosie needed to buy some wild rabbits in London – she sent out a tweet and within an hour, someone had got back to her. A few days later, she was buying the rabbits over the table in our local cafe!