Waitrose set to roll out supper club concept

Waitrose is to roll out its supper club concept to a further 42 shops working with WeFiFo, the social dining platform.

More than 1,300 guests are expected to be served over the course of the events which will be held in 42 different Waitrose & Partners shops across the UK between now and the end of March.

The roll out builds on the success of WeFiFo entering John Lewis Partnership’s unique retail tech innovation programme - JLAB last year. After fighting off strong competition from over 200 start-up businesses, they were awarded £100,000 investment and access to expert advice and support.

Since then seven supper clubs in shops have been trialled, where more than 150 guests were served over the course of seven evenings.

WeFiFo connects home cooks, supper club hosts and professional chefs with diners in their local community. In the case of the events held in Waitrose & Partners shops, WeFiFo gives professional chefs the opportunity to showcase their talents to Waitrose customers.

WeFiFo organises and host the events on behalf of the chefs who develop menus using products available from Waitrose with accompanying wines chosen by the supermarket’s wine specialists.

Music is played during the evenings and guests sit at communal tables to encourage an inclusive experience where everyone feels they can join a conversation whether dining solo, in a couple or with groups of friends and family.

Menus this year have already included African and Thai themes and future events will include vegan and vegetarian supper clubs as well as ‘free from’ supper clubs. Places can be booked at www.wefifo.com with prices varying dependent on event.

Founder of Cabrito Goat, chef and author, James Whetlor, has hosted supper clubs in Waitrose shops in Bristol and Bath; Lerato Umah Shaylor, chef and founder of Lerato, has hosted in Hove; chefs, Beckie Wingrove and Christian Armstrong, from The Salt Box pop up, have hosted in Dorking and Punk Thai hosted in Truro.

Waitrose Head of Hospitality, Rebecca Hemsley, said, “Our supper clubs are one of the many ways we’re bringing innovative and unique services to our customers which aren't provided by other supermarkets.

'These events not only showcase the talented chefs we have here in the UK, but also what’s available in our shops. It’s a fantastic opportunity for guests to enjoy new dishes and be inspired to recreate them using ingredients they may not have tried before.”

WeFiFo co-founder and CEO, Seni Glaister, said, “We believe passionately in our mission to bring people together with food and to combat social isolation through eating together - our partnership with Waitrose & Partners will bring new audiences, talents and influence together in their beautiful café spaces.”

Kathy Slack from Gluts & Gluttony, who hosted a supper club this summer at Waitrose & Partners Banbury, added, “On the day of the supper club, whilst you’re prepping in their on-site kitchens it’s like having the best larder and the best specialists you can imagine right next to you whilst you’re cooking.”

Lerato Umah Shaylor from Lerato, who has hosted a supper club at Waitrose Hove, noted, “I love hosting supper clubs as it gives me a chance to share my great passion and African heritage. Hosting with WeFiFo at Waitrose is quite extraordinary.

'We not only have a shared belief in the cooking and eating well using the very best ingredients, but the important role food plays in bringing people together.”