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July 11, 2013

SUP dinner club hits Cape Town in time for winter by Kelly Berold

The boys behind SUP Andrew Kai and Matthew Freemantle 

Their thinking, according to Andrew, is to expose South Africans to produce and dishes that they aren’t typically used to, which is why it’s not entirely uncommon to be served whole roasted boars (pig head included), squid ink paella, or slow braised rabbit in their company.

If you’re a Cape Town market regular, you’ll know them as the guys who serve the enormous paella in the corner of the Neighbourgoods market at the Old Biscuit Mill on Saturdays (they now operate at six markets a week, just FYI). If you are in any way affiliated with local foodie circles, you’ll know them as the brains behind the newly established Mucho Gusto Trading Company, a Spanish-inspired catering venture that caters exclusively to the Spanish embassy and has recently made its home along Cape Town’s achingly hip Bree Street strip.

Today, Matthew and Andrew are turning their attention to their new pet project, an intimate once-a-month, 6-course supper club simply titled SUP.

“The initial idea of SUP is based on three key factors: Food, people, and space,” says Andrew, a chef and food editor who took up gigs at Jardine and The Roundhouse after working under renowned chef Marcus Wareing in London. “The concept is essentially a pop up restaurant or monthly supper club that allows us to focus on the food and dining experience without the financial stress of a conventional restaurant.”

The space, in this case, is Nix Davies’s Let There Be Light Studios at 48 Albert Road, Woodstock, which is cozy enough to keep out Cape Town harsh winters and spacious enough to host 40 to 50 of Matthew and Andrew’s nearest and dearest, along with a sprinkling of selected industry folk. That’s not to say that SUP is in any way exclusive or off-limits to the public. If you’re shrewd enough to hunt them down online (hint: www.muchogusto.co.za) and can fork out the mere R250* (which is a steal considering that it covers six courses plus wine), the guys are more than happy to have you. “As SUP gets older, we hope to be able to serve to anyone who appreciates both the idea and good food,” says Andrew. “We'll be developing a website so it'll be more accessible to the public.”

Andrew with his signature paella pan

Sociability, collaboration and experimentation are three sacred pillars of the Kai/Freemantle dining experience, and you see them play out consistently in the choice, preparation and source of the food. “The two of us take care of the menu, but we try to involve our friends in the gastronomic world by using their products, whether that's wild boar hunted by a friend or wine made by up-and-coming young winemakers we know,” says Matthew. “For us, it’s all about interaction, indulging and trying new things. We wanted to challenge ourselves to come up with great menus using the most exciting ingredients we can find and spoiling our guests rotten.”

Whole roasted boar

When it comes to the food, they stick with what they do best, devising a heavily Spanish-inspired menu marked by the country’s epicurean tradition of generous portions prepared in a highly-shareable manner that encourages the ritual of ‘feast’ eating. Dishes that have graced the SUP menu so far include white almond gazpacho, clams with pulled pork and chorizo, creme catalan served in their own eggshells, churros with spicy hot chocolate and, my personal favourite, burnt calcots (fire blackened leeks) which are peeled and dipped into a roasted hazelnut and red pepper sauce.

Diners at an SUP event

Not surprisingly, the reception has been outstanding. Says Matthew: “We're three S U P's in now and so far we've been sold out every time, with the crowd almost totally different for each occasion – and that makes us happy.”

To get involved in the next SUP, or to try your hand at one of Matthew and Andrew’s recipes, check out the Mucho Gusto website. You can also email Andrew at andrew@muchogusto.co.za for more information.

*cost subject to change

Article and images by Kelly Berold (@KellyBerold)

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