On Saturday night inside Apotheké, the opium-den-turned-apothecary-themed cocktail bar, founder of members-only social group The Supper Club Tamsin Lonsdale was hosting an exclusive invite-only World Cup-inspired event, the last leg of an all-day soiree that began with brunch and cocktails in the mess hall of the Hudson Hotel.
We sat down with the British-born professional hostess over some Beefeater 24 cocktails to talk about what it takes to join The Supper Club, where the group is going next and how a young stylista from London got caught up in this crazy business.
How did you get started? In London about five years ago. Whilst working in fashion, styling for Italian Vogue and music videos. I started in my free time organizing dinner parties at my home where I would do the cooking and invite a group of friends that did not know each other. Soon after I began taking these dinner parties to restaurants, hot new places that had opened in town, or local neighborhood favorites, and thus the idea of the traveling dinner party was born. My inspiration was the desire to have more meaningful evenings where one could actually connect with new people over meaningful conversations and shared ideas in civilized surroundings -- not to mention over good food and wines. I was 27-years old when I started the club and disillusioned with London nightlife, noisy bars, overpriced drinks, late nights and random encounters. Five years on, we now have offices in New York and Los Angeles and 1000 members worldwide.
What was your first dinner party and was it a success? My first Supper Club dinner party was at my father's apartment in South Kensington, London. He has a huge wooden table, which accommodates 20 guests. I recruited a couple of girlfriends to help with the cooking. We made fish pie -- one of my favorites -- and were up all night the night before, cooking the food, so it would all be perfect for the next night. The dinner was a big success and gave me the spark to start the club as a traveling dinner party. ... I still love hosting dinners in private homes, but these are more of a special occasion and when our members offer to open up their doors to the club. I also pick a private chef to come and cook for us so I have my hands free to be a good hostess, look after my guests and make sure everyone’s kept well hydrated.
What's your favorite party venue in New York City? I am a big fan of The Box -- never gets old for me. I also love Apotheke. One of my great friends, Heather Tierney, owns it so it's always fun to go there at the end of a night out for a night cap.
What are some places you’re dying to throw a party at? BES -- which stands for Boutique Eat Shop -- and is owned by my friend Patrick Duffy. This place is a little gem in Chelsea and has only been opened for a couple of weeks. It's not often a restaurant can pull off amazing decor with equally amazing food, but BES does it easily. It is also a perfect date spot, very romantic. I am hosting a Supper Club here in a couple of weeks. The next -- Andaz on 5th Avenue. The restaurant does not open until September, but we are taking over their private event space in August, which is gorgeous, offering members a first-glance sneak preview of what will be a very hot venue in town. A couple of months back we hosted a Supper Club at the Andaz's restaurant Downtown called Wall & Water, and I was very impressed. I especially liked the open-plan kitchen.
What criteria do you look at when picking spots for your parties? Good management and attentive staff. There is nothing worse that have disorganized staff on the night of an event. It can make for a very stressful evening. Today at the World Cup Viewing Party at Hudson Hall at Hudson Hotel the staff was amazing. I like to find a romantic atmosphere. The lower the venue is lit the better, helps break the ice when new people are meeting for the first time. Obviously, the food needs to be up to scratch. I often do food tasting before the event so as to make sure there are no surprises and everything is perfect for my event. As far as seating, I love to set up my Supper Club diners in one big communal banqueting table as opposed to splitting up the group onto smaller tables.
What’s the difference between your NY and LA parties? LA is maybe a little more entertainment and New York a little more professional and media-oriented. But I always have a great mix of people from different industries around my table -- this is key to a successful dinner. Most New York events are in new restaurants, clubs, bars or hotels, and in LA we get to host our events in private homes and outdoors.
What’s next for The Supper Club? We’re looking at possible expansion to other cities in the USA like San Francisco and Chicago.
How does an outsider join The Supper Club? To be considered for membership, a person has to be referred by two existing members. If they are then I personally interview them. People can begin the process by applying at thesupperclubinc.com.
What's the last party you went to that wasn't your own? Um. Let me think about that one. I always love to go to a party that not my own, as gives me a chance to relax.The last party i went to that was not my own was at Soho House in LA, hosted by Victoria Beckham and Eva Longoria.
What does New York nightlife need more of? I think NY has it quite locked down in terms of partying. However, I think NYC could use more outdoor areas and rooftops for its nightlife scene to make the most of this great summer weather, like LA does. My favorite parties are always outdoors.
What are New Yorkers really good at? Going out, they have unlimited energy.