Last weekend Blog Preston was invited to attend an unusual charity event called Six Seats Supper Club.Advertisement
What makes this unlike a regular supper club is that it’s only held six times a year, consists of six courses, and is open to just six randomly chosen guests.
It’s held at the private home of the host, the location of which is only divulged a week or so before the event. All of the prep, cooking, service and washing up is done by the chef who is known only as Six, and his serene wife. Guests aren’t allowed to name the hosts, so I will refer to her as One so we’re all clear that theirs is a bigamy-free household. While I’m throwing numbers about I may as well also refer to them collectively as Seven.
Such is the level of secrecy that presumably anyone hired to help would have to be executed out back at the end of the evening. It was mysterious, intriguing and sounded tastefully fancy, so I dressed accordingly. Unfortunately, I slipped on some cobbles as I sashayed into the car, laddering my tights and getting an alarming amount of wildlife in my nails, which put an immediate end to my fanciness.
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I was greeted at the door of a beautiful house by the friendly One, taken into the kitchen to meet Six and the other guests and given a glass of fizz. We all introduced ourselves, and thanks to the down-to-earth welcome from the hosts the atmosphere was immediately casual and warm.
I’ve noticed that sometimes the more classy the restaurant, the more unappealing and hard to translate the menu becomes, until before you know it you’re in an achingly exclusive restaurant, paying £300 for a plate of cheese eels straddling a country pancake, enrobed in French regret and garnished with a radish that’s been hand-whittled into the image of your own appalled face. Thankfully, true to his no-nonsense Preston roots, Six’s menu came down on the right side of the fine line between unusual-yet-tempting-food versus terrifying-post-apocalyptic-survival-scran.
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The first thing that entered my mind when I received the invite back in November and saw all the sixes involved in the evening was that someone is getting ritually eaten. Even more worrying was that I wouldn’t be accompanied by my mother Yvonne, so I had nobody to throw behind me as I made my escape. On arrival I decided that fellow guest Jane, the retired special needs support worker, was the next best option so I sat next to her.
To start off, we each had a small roll of East Lancashire cheese bread, still warm and smelling wonderful, quickly followed by salmon gravlax, blackened cucumber, horseradish and dill. I’m guessing not the same kind of blackened cucumber that likes to hang out in my fridge. The thinly sliced salmon was butter-soft and liberally coated with fresh herbs, complemented by the subtle flavour of horseradish and an unexpected addition of two small melon balls, one marinated in chardonnay and the other in squid ink, which is always better to find out about after it’s been eaten and enjoyed.
The salmon was a perfect, light first course, which was then followed by baby cauliflower, black eyed pea hummus and baby leeks. It was a subtle combination, with the garlicky hummus being the dominant flavour and the cauliflower managing not to have the faint edge of old sock that can sometimes creep in.
Lobster ravioli, charred baby gem and lobster bisque was the next dish to the table. The beautifully cooked lobster filling was of a similar texture to the al dente pasta, Six having managed to time it so that it maintained some resilience without becoming rubbery, whilst the bisque contained a shot of citrusy Yuzu juice that brought the combo alive.
Everyone’s favourite dish of the evening was the main event of pork belly with rapini puree and potato paper. After a quick Google I discovered that rapini is a member of the broccoli family, similar to regular broccoli but with more bitterness and a smaller head, like me compared to my sister.
It was accompanied by a punchy black peppercorn sauce, and the small and precisely cut cube of pork belly was charred to perfection, looking, smelling and tasting the way I always imagine one of my barbecues will turn out. The reality of course would be death by multipurpose bockwurst, the raw end of which I can use to infect myself with campylobacter, while with the handy charcoal side I can scrawl out, “it was the sosig” on a flagstone to hopefully avoid being autopsied by a judgy coroner.
The dessert was a thing of beauty. Millionaire shortbread tart with a dark chocolate and cardamom sorbet.
The top layer of chocolate was so perfectly circular and glossy that my new acquaintance, Jane, gave the ultimate compliment/insult by asking if it was cardboard. It was topped by a crinkle of gold leaf which made me desperately want to try and put it around my front teeth like 50 Cent, but I was somewhere nice so I didn’t. The bitter cardamom was countered by the rich sweetness of the chocolate, but although it was delicious I was defeated before I could finish it all.
Seven joined us for coffee and handmade chocolates, and a chat about how Six Seats came about. Although Six isn’t a professional chef, he has been cooking and creating from a young age, and food is clearly a passion of his. Even though the event was in a beautiful home, with the best of ingredients artfully prepared and presented as skillfully as anything found in a Michelin starred restaurant, there was zero snobbery or pretention involved. Just a joyful celebration of good food.
What also came across is how strongly he and his wife believe in giving back to the community, which is why they contribute all of the ingredients, their time, their hospitality and their energy freely. Guests are invited to donate via JustGiving to Cardiac Risk in the Young, a charity close to their hearts.
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Anyone wishing to be considered for a place at the Six Seats table can join the Facebook group and put forward a request. However if a meal with five strangers isn’t your thing, the photos of the beautiful dishes combined with the excitement and passion for good food are worth a lurk on their own.
The departure from the “dinner with friends comfort zone” can be a little daunting, but it gets people talking who may not otherwise meet. Jane the retired special needs supporter with a wicked sense of humour, Graham the jolly engineer, Barbara the foodie from the Women’s Institute, who I think at one point I may have accused of having links to the KGB. Alison and her husband were at the other end of the table so unfortunately I didn’t really get to chat to them but they score 10/10 for friendly smiles and waves.
Last but not least, Seven, the generous and welcoming hosts of the evening. Thank you for the invite, it was a memorable event for a wonderful cause, and I hope many more people get a chance to experience Six Seats.
If you would like to donate to Six Seats’ chosen charity, you can do so by on JustGiving.
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Is the Six Seats Supper Club something you’d love to attend, or does the idea of dining with five strangers make you want to eat a cheeseburger under your quilt? Let us know in the comments below.