I started hosting Supper Clubs in 2012, holding events to raise money for the Girl Guides and for my brother-in-law who was competing in a charity Iron Man event.
Prior to WeFiFo, like everyone in the food industry, I had the issue of no shows, people who booked seats and didn’t turn up (I hate throwing food away), and others who came to eat and didn’t pay, so it wasn’t without it’s challenges. I was trying to work out how to host better, more efficient events when I came across WeFiFo. WeFiFo had just launched, it was May 2016, and that’s when everything fell neatly into place.
Hosting my events through WeFiFo is probably the best decision I’ve ever made. At one-point last year one of my events nestled on site between Tim Maddams (of River Cottage fame) and Ronnie Murray (contestant in the Great British Menu 2016). I mean honestly, my kitchen is not exactly big and not kitted out with up-to-date equipment – I don’t even have a dishwasher! But there it was, my event, in my home on a cobbled street in Darwen where I cook in the shadows of Lancashire’s tallest cotton mill chimney.
The opportunities that have come my way over the last three years are spellbinding. I’ve shared food with thousands of people, travelled to fellow hosts homes and washed up next to Dhruv Baker (Master Chef Winner 2010) – like it was the most ordinary thing in the world. I’m now part of Darwen Town Centre Partnership Board as a volunteer, involved in trying to regenerate the old market and town hall square. I’ve hosted an event for world renowned British artist Liam Hopkins, worked closely in collaboration with Neal and Paul from Ginception, taking my home events to a new level as pop ups. Last year I won an award for bringing my community together through sharing food and have become part of the story of the place where I live, it’s a lovely feeling when you know you’ve made a difference.
I am often asked what my favourite thing is about hosting Supper Clubs and it’s actually quite difficult to decide which aspect I love the most. At the forefront has to be the people you meet, be it guests, other hosts, the WeFiFo team or the inspiring people that make up the wider food industry. Some guests who entered my home as strangers are now treasured friends. You would think that after 200 events the magic would have dulled slightly but honestly, it really hasn’t. When I write down the names of the guests coming to dinner I look forward to seeing them all, whether they’ve been before and I’m catching up with them or if they’re new. I’m excited to hear about how new guests found me and learning all about them. I love watching how the evening unfolds, how people together in the same room for the first time gel, laugh, share stories, become friends and for a few hours I can watch it all unfold in the comfort of my home. I’m still excited the day after feeding people, logging online to read the reviews. Every single one is very much appreciated and serves as a reminder of why I host events and they inspire me to move forward.
Other WeFiFo hosts have shared recipes, marketing ideas, social media tips and supported me with words of wisdom, made me laugh out loud and helped me grow. I would seriously not be where I am without them. The willingness to share, shape and encourage is truly inspiring. It’s just amazing watching new hosts and events pop up on the website and be able to share what I‘ve learned with them and watch them succeed too.
If you haven’t been to a Supper Club event yet then please do, I promise you won’t be disappointed. If you’re thinking about hosting but haven’t created your first event, get in touch if you need help, advice, ideas or have any questions, I’ll do everything I can to help you take those first steps.
Sharing food is such a huge part of my life, it has allowed me to work from home on my terms, it has brought me friendships and opportunities, and it all started with one roast chicken.
Dinner at Maria’s Supper Club Host
Maria has been part of the WeFiFo family since 2016, feeding over 1,550 people in the Lancashire community. With an abundance of experience Maria creates exotic and adventurous menus with cuisine from all over the world, and with fast-selling seats, Dinner at Maria’s continues to grow in popularity.