Laura Jackson & Alice Levine’s first cookbook is packed with advice and recipes from their eponymous London-based supper club. Absolutely meets them to steal their secrets.
Interview Hannah Hopkins
How did you meet and start your supper clubs?
We met at a jumble sale that our friend Gemma Cairney was running for Oxfam, she asked us each to run a stall. We kept finding things we thought the other would like – there were some dungarees and a cat blouse if memory serves us right. We started chatting about food on our break and decided to meet up and have lunch. We then cooked up the idea of starting a supper club.
What’s the ethos behind your cookbook Round to Ours?
We have been running supper clubs together for four years. Along the way we have learnt loads of great little cheats for cooking for big numbers, and setting the mood when people come over – so we thought we would get them all down in one place. It’s part cookbook, part interiors book, part directory for great finds. We want people to turn to it in times of entertaining need!
How did you decide which recipes would go in the book?
We wanted the book to inspire people to get their friends over – so that meant everything had to be impressive but easy to put together. The book is full of menus that we have cooked for loved ones, that have gone down well. Great all-rounders, that can become part of your repertoire.
What’s your favourite aspect of having people over for dinner?
We love having a busy, bustling kitchen table, with all our favourite people around it, the more the merrier. The best dinners start early and end late – everyone staying well into the night is a good sign. Being at the heart of the action as the person making the food has always been a thrill for us both.
Which are some of your favourite go-to dishes for groups?
A piece of slow cooked meat is always an amazing crowd pleaser – think lamb shoulder done low and slow. Serve with some dauphinoise which tastes even better if you prepare it the night before. Then just do some simple seasonal greens with lemon and black pepper.
Your supper clubs look so beautiful. What are your tips for throwing the perfect dinner party?
If you are going to the trouble of cooking a lovely meal for friends, it’s worth putting that final bit of effort in to present it in a beautiful way. We are all about the small details – some lovely plants or flowers for the table (we get inspiration on Instagram from our florist friends @wormlondon). Pick up some large sharing platters and plates in the charity shop so you can serve some dishes banquet-style in the middle of the table and take time to think about the lighting – it makes such a difference.
What’s a good idea for a welcome drink?
We have been making something called “rocket fuel” since the early days – it’s a very simple recipe; gin, prosecco, elderflower cordial and a slice of cucumber or grapefruit. It’s definitely an ice breaker.
What would be on your playlist?
We always play tracks on the record player and encourage guests to pick up a classic in the charity shop that they can put on. Northern Soul seem to go down well so we raid Jon [Laura’s boyfriend’s] collection.
How does your dynamic together work in the kitchen?
Laura is a Tasmanian devil – so much energy and a mean list maker. Alice likes the washing up! So in many ways a perfect combination.
There’s a real new tribe of young, stylish female foodies out there right now. How do you stand out from the crowd?
We are friends with loads of the female foodies. We saw Anna Jones today and Rosie Birkett is a great pal who we always call up for great ideas and dog walks on the Marshes. We all get together for lunches and dinners. Elly Pear comes over to visit from Bristol, Clare Lattin from Duck Soup and Claire Ptak from Violet’s bring a dish too. We also host the Young British Foodie Awards because Lily Vanilli is a friend of ours. So for us it’s not about standing out from the crowd – it’s trying to be an even bigger part of it.
As broadcasters you’re both used to interviewing celebrities – who is the best person you’ve interviewed?
LJ: Snoop Dog, he wouldn’t stop talking about the Queen.
AL: I played Hungry Hippos with Quentin Tarantino, he’d never heard of it so he took it home with him.
What do you do to unwind?
Cook! Seriously we find a leisurely stint in the kitchen with the radio on to be a lovely way to de-stress. Either that or watching rubbish TV.
Finally, where are your favourite places to eat in London?
LJ: Morito – the Exmouth Market tapas bar and restaurant has always been a favourite, as is Rochelle Canteen – hidden in a garden, behind the wall of a Victorian school.
AL: Duck Soup is ideal for a chilled, mid-week dinner. Padella – we have always loved Tim’s restaurant Trullo, so when they opened this little sister pasta joint, we were over the moon. Try the pici, it’s phenomenal. And also Campania & Jones. We have both lived in the East End for many years, and we still love a trip to Columbia Road. Summer nights on that patch of cobbles is divine.
Round to Ours by Jackson & Levine, to be published by Quadrille on 18th May, price £25. To pre-order your copy visit Amazon