Earlsfield chef, NHS Ops lead and host of authentic Indian supperclubs and events, Deepa Nair talks to ET...
Your upcoming Jolly Gardeners evening sounds fabulous, how did it come about?
I have lived in SW London since 2009 and in Earlsfield since 2013. It is a great community where everyone is friendly, open to new experiences and supportive of start-ups. I was very clear that I would only host my supperclubs in cafes or pubs instead of at home, so I started talking to local venues and was overwhelmed by the response I got. I have hosted events at Barmouth Kitchen, Grosvenor Arms and, since last year, at Jolly Gardeners. Adam, the manager of the pub is always super supportive of new businesses and has a very good team around him - this makes life a lot easier on the day of events and in the run up.. also a special shout out to Steve, the FOH manager and Luke the person behind Eat Local who helps with the marketing and sales support for these supperclubs! Lastly, it also happens to be 5 minutes from home in case of any last minute emergencies!
What inspired you to start your supper clubs and events business?
My love for hosting dinner parties and entertaining friends comes from my mum, whose dinner parties were the talk of the town. My family still laughs at me that in London I have up to 5 Diwali celebrations each year :).
I have learnt everything I know about cooking from my mum. Growing up, we lived in various parts of India as well as in the Middle East, so although I am originally from Kerala, India, home cooking for me was everything from the Punjabi butter chicken to Kerala tamarind fish curry. Being in London for over a decade, I have always felt that while the Indian restaurant scene in London is prolific, authentic regional cuisine is severely under-represented as well as being touted as the unhealthy eating out option. I attended a supperclub in 2016 celebrating authentic Bengali cuisine and came out thinking ‘I can do this, I am going to give this a shot’.
I have always loved entertaining friends and family at home and this seemed like a natural progression. And over 2 yrs and about 15 sell out supperclubs later, I still enjoy it just as much!.
What are your biggest challenges?
Oh where do I begin.. I host my supperclubs along side holding a full time job within the NHS and managing two young kids (and a super busy husbandJ) so I think achieving a balancing act is my biggest challenge. There are days when I feel no matter what I am doing, I am shortchanging some other aspect of my life. As far as running Gutsy Chutney is concerned, I am currently a one-woman band, so cooking, table décor, menu planning, plating, ticket sales - it's all me and that comes with its own set of challenges.
What can we expect from The Gutsy Chutney?
Over the past two years, my supperclubs have always been around a specific theme (the one on March 13th is a homage to Indian streetfoods), or to celebrate one of the many Indian festivals or both. Last year I hosted a supperclub at the Darjeeling Express on Carnaby Street to raise funds for the Kerala floods as part of the #cookforkerala campaign and it was a very fulfilling experience to be able to raise funds for affected families whilst doing something that I love. So I have decided that I will be focussing my supperclub events on more charitable causes, local and international. Guests can still expect a 5-6 course meal of delicious regional Indian food served as small plates, and enjoy it knowing they are contributing to a noble cause!.
What Earlsfield events are next on the cards?
Lots happening over the next few months!. After the supper club at Jolly Gardeners in March, I am working with The Hygiene Bank, a local charity to tackle hygiene poverty in and around London, via a fundraising supperclub at the lovely Home Community Cafe at St. Andrews Church. I am also planning a fundraiser supperclub for a local charity, the Be Kind Movement in early July. This is a local charity that promotes kindness and have recently produced an award winning short film, (Itsy) which has been filmed in Earlsfield and features a couple of locals in it as well. There will be a couple of supperclubs to celebrate the many Indian festivals but the dates are yet to be confirmed. Watch this space!