Coming out of a global pandemic, many businesses continue incorporating the ease and comfort of ‘home’ with their working models. This doesn’t stop at working from home, part-time and flexible hours, as well as a bigger focus on mental health support, but even drills down to how work spaces might be run from the ground up.
New ways to bring food to the table
In addition, rising living and business costs, Brexit, and a decline in people physically visiting shops and restaurants during the last two years have resulted in businesses giving up not only many of their commercial properties, but also hit hard with staff redundancy. Read more about ‘Veganism on a Budget’ here.
In turn, this brought a rise in savvy self-employment solutions to offer a range of services, commercial goods, and of course food to customers local and beyond. Etsy, eBay and food services such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats have seen an increase of up to seven times in new business accounts over the last 12 months alone.
Home is where the heart is
Food enthusiasts, chefs and hobby cooks alike have taken this opportunity to fill a seemingly long-yearned gap in the food market: private dining experiences. Inviting people to your own home and dinner table might not be for everyone, but it makes good business sense to utilise what most people will already have at home: a kitchen and dining table.
Taking the idea further, the concept allows for a more sustainable solution to restaurants and most commercial kitchens, with a set number of guests, vegan menus serving a mix of home-grown, foraged and seasonal local produce, using less energy, reducing the carbon footprint and creating less food waste.
The Cooking Flea – Bristol, UK
With more plant-based private dining concepts popping up each day across the country, we went and booked in an exclusive dinner experience with Bristol locals, The Cooking Flea.
The Cooking Flea was created by Carmen from Calabria in May 2020. During the first lockdown, she found herself at home, with plenty of time on her hands and finally acted on the idea to create a place where she could share her meals and show everyone how easy, colourful and flavoursome a vegan diet can be. Carmen says: “I wanted to welcome foodies into my kitchen, sharing with them my homemade creations whilst offering a private dining experience with the welcoming and friendly atmosphere that is typical of an Italian home. It didn’t take long to realise that a supper club was the best way forward, or at least to start with.”
The Cooking Flea offers a selection of three different menus, which rotate from week to week. All of them are vegan, and there’s an option for gluten-free for each course. Using only fresh, seasonal, mostly local and organic produce, the menus are updated each season. All the ingredients, from the starter to dessert are carefully selected and combined to enhance flavours and to turn boring veggies… into wonders!
“I believe that food brings us together, no matter what language we speak. Food is all about the joy of sharing. I would like my house to be that place where guests come as strangers and leave as friends”, she adds.
Eating at someone else’s table
Arriving at Carmen’s apartment, we felt immediately welcome and were greeted by a wonderful, brightly set table and a selection of refreshing kombucha drinks – with ice and rosemary stalks for that extra special touch! Some people might be worried about how a small, intimate setting could quickly turn uncomfortable. We were relieved to find that both of our hosts were extremely attentive, and very easy to talk to. Two traits that are simply a must for hosting a smooth private dining experience! Sharing the experience with not only the hosts, but another two guests also made for a great ongoing conversation flow.
The evening continued with a high standard of hosting, and a fantastically mouth-watering starter of Mediterranean bao buns with balsamic tempeh and greens, alongside some gorgeous olives and nibbles, and ‘Mamma’s’ homemade focaccia. The main dish was a stunning black garlic linguine with ’cacio’ sauce and truffle oil, and a most delicious kale salad on the side. The menu then finished off on a scrumptious cheesecake al cucchiaio.
All food was presented impeccably, and Carmen talked us through the making of it, the thoughts behind the meals, as well as lovely anecdotes about her recipes. We could feel the passion, and see the sparkle in her eyes when we tried each well-presented and utterly scrumptious course.
Our Verdict about plant-based private dining experiences
Trying out something new, that might soon become a standard, can be daunting. Booking a meal at someone’s personal dinner table sounds a little controversial, but we’d encourage everyone to step out of your comfort zone and give this kind of vegan food experience a try. You’ll not only do our planet a favour by reducing C02 and emissions, but also support a local small entrepreneur that can’t wait to showcase to you what they’re most passionate about.
Plant-based private dining across the UK
You might have to do some Googling to find your most local plant-based private dining experience, as there is currently no official directory. Here’s our top four:
- The Cooking Flea – Bristol
- The Velvet Garden – Taunton
- Kara’s Vegan Supper Club – Bournemouth
- Greenhouse – Bath and South Gloucestershire
Continue the conversation
Did you know? We also have a handy app that can help you in making a real difference to the planet, the animals and your own health. Try over 900 vegan recipes for all occasions and abilities by downloading our Vegan Recipe Club app, or visit the recipe section of our webpage!