Partner Stories #2: Celebrating the Year of the Tiger with Dinner Ladies
Dinner Ladies have taken some lucky guests on a culinary journey through China, with the celebrations taking place over three nights at Saint Espresso in Hackney. Guests were treated to a five-course feasting menu that explored the different flavours of chinese cooking and included some of the DL team’s personal favourites. This is the fifth year they have hosted a Chinese New Year supper club, and it is their way of sharing their culture with others.
From handmade fan menus and pairs of oranges on the tables for good luck, to make-your-own dumplings, everyone in attendance was in for a real treat.
The team took some time to chat with us about their CNY supper club, the traditions and dishes of CNY, and their personal connections to Asia. We are so excited to share a bit of the Dinner Ladies' story with you.
Why is Chinese New Year so close to Dinner Ladies’ hearts? What are your connections to Asia?
Dinner Ladies started up after Lily and Emily spent time living in China together - they spent lots of time tasting their way around the country. Two other members of our team also spent time growing up in Southeast Asia where Chinese New Year is celebrated so it has a special place in our hearts.
What can people expect at a Dinner Ladies CNY supper club?
A fun evening amongst friends - new and old - that celebrates Chinese culture, cuisine and tradition as the centrepiece. Our supper clubs are our chance to get really creative - to play around with theme, decor and food. With feasting being as integral to our ethos as it is to Asian culture, our guests can expect an explosion of powerful umami flavours presented in an inventive way.
How did you decide which 5 courses would make it onto the menu? Were they personal favourites &/or traditional dishes that are specific to the Lunar New Year?
We’ve been gathering our favourites over the years. There were a few things that had to make it onto the menu, like the dumplings that we taught guests to make at the table and then cooked up. As for the other courses and with every supper club we do, we have a couple of days trying out new recipes in the kitchen then tasting them as a team before we cast our votes and bring together the final menu. It’s a really fun, collaborative process.
Do you have an ultimate favourite Chinese dish?
You just cannot beat freshly cooked dumplings. Turnip cake is another favourite - this was the veggie alternative to one of our supper club dishes, served with an egg yolk, oyster sauce and coriander salsa.
Are there any traditions that are specific to the Lunar New Year feast? If so, which ones have been included at your supper club? I saw that guests could make their own dumplings, which is so exciting, are dumplings a big part of CNY?
Sharing and family-style feasting are huge parts of CNY celebrations - both of which are key parts of the supper club experience. Dumplings always make an appearance too - legend has it that the more you eat, the more wealth you’ll get in the coming year. In terms of decor, we kept things to the traditional colours of red and gold. Guests could also take home a pair of oranges at the end of the evening as good luck - typically a pair of oranges is presented when you visit your relatives for CNY for luck and prosperity.
Was anyone from the DL team born in the year of the Tiger?
Unfortunately not but we do have a few dogs, goats and horses on the team.
Dinner Ladies CNY just had its 5th edition, can we expect a 6th edition for the next Lunar New Year?
Absolutely - while the other supper clubs we host throughout the year will continue to change & adapt, Chinese New Year is one of the staple of our supper club series and we’re proud to shout about it given personal connections!
Dinner Ladies incorporate inspiration from their travels into their dishes, besides China, what other countries have inspired your menus?
Our menus change with the seasons and take inspiration from where we’ve travelled and the things that we’ve enjoyed eating as a team recently. You’ll find influences from all across Asia throughout our menu, from gochujang mayo to XO sauce. We also love transporting guests to other parts of the world through our Middle Eastern mezze style sharing platters and Italian antipasti boards.
And last but not least, when is your next supper club and what will be the theme?
Next up is Reggae-toni, a playful celebration of pasta and reggae music - two of life's greatest mood boosters! It’ll once again be five courses - this time of indulgent, vibrant pastas, to be enjoyed with live reggae music on 20th and 21st April 2022.
We can’t wait to see what else Dinner Ladies get up to this year, with another supper club on the horizon, it looks like it will be another successful and exciting year for them. DL not only put on various supper clubs, but they also cater for shoots, weddings, corporate and private events, so do get in touch with them if you're looking for an (incredible) caterer!
We’re thrilled to have them on board as one of our preferred partners and can’t wait for them to be back at Barrington!
- Barrington team xxx
Photography: All photos of the Dinner Ladies' CNY supper club were taken by The French Nic