A new season of supper clubs has dawned, where business rather than food is the focal point. The era of the LinkedIn dinner party has arrived and Bayswater’s Debut Contemporary is leading the field.
At the helm of this gallery-with-a-difference are Samir Ceric and Zoe Knight, whose vision of “discovering, mentoring and supporting talent in contemporary art” has helped dozens of aspiring artists turn their practice into a viable trade over the past two years. Supper clubs are just one of the ways in which Ceric and Knight expose their artists to potential buyers, collectors and industry officials.
On Wednesday night the Debut team combined forces with the Italian Supper Club, in partnership with Lime&Tonic, and treated their guests to a four-course tasting menu. On arrival we were given flutes of a cranberry cocktail and taken on a mini tour around the gallery by the artists, who explained their inspirations and artistic backgrounds. After mingling, we were led downstairs to a long white table adorned with beautiful bouquets of roses and tulips. A seating plan separated duos and after a quick brief from the chef about the menu and the Macedonian wines, the meal commenced.
Salmon sashimi with pickled vegetables arrived with a glass of white wine. The latter was great, full-bodied and not too sweet, and it helped wash away the taste of the courgette and cream roll. One of the two slices of salmon was very good, tender and fresh, but the other was sinewy and tough. We were also given a bread roll which was hard, cold and served without butter.
Things got better. The next course – castelbelbo ravioli with truffles – was delightful. The only complaint would be that there wasn’t enough of it, and really that’s a compliment.
Next was monkfish served with fennel purée, which was done very well, and even appealed to the fennel haters at the event. The blend of potato mellowed the potent vegetable and it was well suited to the white fish. Another glass of the same white wine worked well here too, but as an addition rather than as a mouthwash.
Dessert was a coffee panna cotta served with liquorice shavings and biscotti. The panna cotta was slightly too gelatinous in texture, but very tasty, and the biscotti were perfect – warm, crunchy and light.
Though a mixed bag, overall the food wasn’t good enough to warrant the £75-a-head charge, but then the focus of the night wasn’t really about the food, it was about art and business, and that was a raging success. Conversations that started over salmon with strangers were conversations with friends by dessert. Business cards were swapped and invitations extended.
Taking food out of the equation, it was business and art that successfully fused at Debut Contemporary’s supper club and created an environment far more personal and vibrant than any boardroom. A thoroughly entertaining and different approach to business, I would recommend attending another of Debut’s supper clubs, but as a lover of art, not of food.
Italian Passion at Debut Contemporary: 41/60