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Ms Marmite Lover: Love At First Sight

Love her or hate her, Catherine May is impressed with Kerstin Rodgers

Published on July 14th 2011.


Ms Marmite Lover: Love At First Sight

WHEN I speak to Kerstin Rodgers (the woman behind MsMarmiteLover) she is in the hairdressers, having a mustard-coloured streak put in her hair to coincide with a MAILLE pop-up shop she’s involved with. If that’s not dedication to your craft, then I don’t know what is.

“I suppose I hadn’t foreseen that the professional restaurants would steal the idea. It’s understandable, but dismaying. Supper clubs aren’t meant to be about another male pro-chef offering overpriced, tiny portions – they’re about home cooking.”

Asked about the beginnings of supper clubs in the city, Rodgers speaks proudly of being the one who brought them to the capital. “I’d been to Cuba back in 2000 and had seen these paladares, where they open their homes to cook homemade food,” she says. “I’d been cooking for cafés and wanted to do my own food so the idea evolved."

Supper Club

So what does she think of the way the movement has grown? “I’ve got slightly mixed feelings – my heart sinks slightly.” This surprises me, after all it was her who founded the first one, but her explanation makes sense. 

“I suppose I hadn’t foreseen that the professional restaurants would steal the idea. It’s understandable, but dismaying. Supper clubs aren’t meant to be about another male pro-chef offering overpriced, tiny portions – they’re about home cooking.”

It’s a fair point. She goes on to explain that she’s been to other supper clubs in the capital – a mix of the professional ones and those more similar to her style – and loves discovering great home cooks. She sees supper clubs as a way for women to show their culinary talents as there’s still a lack of female chefs in the professional cooking industry. “The long hours just don’t work for women with children. How are you supposed to work sixteen hours including evening service when you have children?”

That’s one of the reasons Rodgers founded her supper club, The Underground Restaurant. She’s always worked it around her daughter.

Her new cookery book, Supper Club, details The Underground Restaurant from its humble beginnings. It offers an insight into Rodger’s childhood trips to a holiday home in France where her family would drive for two days from London stopping off at Les Routiers en route. The book also lists other notable supper clubs in the capital and elsewhere in the country.

Stargazy PieStargazy Pie

It’s at this point I ask whether Rodgers ever likes to eat out in the capital. She says she rarely has the time, and whilst she does enjoy the food at the likes of Polpetto, she finds the waiting and loud music off-putting. With sentiments such as this, it’s impossible to deny she practices everything she preaches.

Her book details themed menus – “I nearly always have a theme” – and Rodgers tells me the research is all part of the home-dining experience. “I love the research,” she says as she goes on to tell me about an upcoming project to cook at both Bestival and Camp Bestival. “I’m going to cook for 50 to 70 covers, three times a day – it’s on a completely different scale.” She’s planning to cook menus involving edible flowers (this menu is featured in Supper Club) but also hopes to use local ingredients.

I ask if this is something central to her cooking. She pauses. “I try to when I can, but no, it’s not something I really do. I recently went to South Africa to a grapefruit farm. We don’t grow grapefruits here so I’ll get mine from there. They need the work too.”

As for the future of supper clubs? Rodgers doesn’t think that  future is in London. “I’m not very interested in London anymore. There are more supper clubs here than any other city in the world. I want to see more outside the capital and an increase in ethnic supper clubs that offer home-cooked food from different nations.”

Stargazy PieStargazy Pie

That’s not to say she won’t be continue cooking in London. In fact, she’s just put up dates for events to coincide with the 2012 Olympics. “With all the tourists coming over this is a tremendous opportunity to show British food is better than it’s reputation.”

Have there been any bookings yet? “No, I only just put it up. But there will be…”

And with that I leave her to finish up with her hair appointment. Kerstin Rodgers is a rarity in the food industry; She offers something fresh, something different. Her passion for her food is evident, not only in the streak in her hair, but in the way she talks about her events and her book.

Whilst she seems to have progressed greatly from The Underground Restaurant’s opening night, it seems that there’s still a lot more to come from Kerstin Rodgers.

 

Ms Marmite Lover Blog

To view one of Ms Marmite's favourite recipes, please click here

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AnonymousJune 15th 2012.

Actually, it was Horton Jupiter that had the first one. Kerstin wanted to make extra money on the side so copied his idea and then claimed it as her own. Known her for over 15 years. Thoroughly unpleasant woman!

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