My most memorable experiences are when I’m around the dining table, surrounded by friends, family or even a group of people I don’t know. As the food and drinks flow, conversations begin, relationships are made and everyone leaves happier than when they came in. Our aim is to welcome our guests into an ever changing space, which we always treat as our own home, and provide them with a unique, fun and delicious epicurean experience.
And just like going to someone’s house, the menu always changes. Sometimes, you may get a 5 course meal, a dinner showcasing one signature dish, or a champagne party.
We can’t wait to welcome you.
VEA Supper Club started with the idea of simply bringing people together over a shared meal and of course, great drinks. VEA stands for Vivek's Epicurean Adventures, which was a blog I ran back in the day. I realize now, it was probably the worst name ever. The blog was a place for me to share recipes with friends and family, but as I got included into the larger body and world of food bloggers, it served as an avenue for challenging me to become a better cook. Trying new things became a passion for me - joining a CSA, making my own bacon at home, learning about the food culture of the place I live and traveling the world to try new and interesting cuisines. After a while, however, I cared less about writing recipes and instead wanted to tell stories.
So, then I got to thinking. As a mediocre writer, I was pretty lazy at putting together posts. While I used to post 3 times a week, it started to become once a week, then twice a month, until having a blog no longer challenged me to be better. I figured there had to be another medium to say the things I wanted to say and to push myself creatively. That's when it clicked. Why not tell my stories by creating an experience for others, centered around the things I loved most - great food and drinks!
The idea of VEA Supper Club was inspired after watching a one hour special on Cooking Channel about The Four Coursemen - a supper club held by friends in Athens, GA. The idea of going to a farm, picking out ingredients, building a menu, pairing that menu with wine and showcasing it to guests with the farmer in attendance was super cool to me. I googled to see if anyone was doing it in Nashville and didn't really see anything. I had just moved back from Washington, D.C. and was looking for jobs, so I figured, "why not do this and make a little cash on the side?" In May 2011, I hosted the first VEA Supper Club in my parents house. I did about 5 events there before moving to Nashville Farmers' Market. At NFM, I was lucky to partner with a good friend, Chef Laura Wilson, as we started hosted monthly dinners for 25 in April of 2012. In 2014, we started popping up in restaurants around town and in 2015, started playing around with different experiences beyond our traditional 5 courses with wine pairings format.
Over the years, I've been privileged to be a part of Nashville's culinary community and with the generosity of many friends, chefs and restaurateurs, VEA Supper Club has hosted over 100 dinners all over town.
WHAT IS THE SUPPER CLUB EXPERIENCE?
Essentially, we produce unique, fun and delicious epicurean experiences in a few different formats.
Our core experience is the SUPPER CLUB. Typically, these dinners are for 24-30 people. As you walk into the space, you're greeted with a sparkling beverage and a snack - because we certainly don't want you to be hangry. Then, you'll sit down for a multi coursed meal. While it's always about 5 courses, sometimes you can have up to 13 or 15 different dishes, all paired with either beer, wine or a cocktail. Sometimes we partner with great breweries - like Blackberry Farm Brewing - or outstanding wineries. Throughout the dinner, we explain each course - how it was made and where we procured those ingredients, as well as why we pair it with a certain beverage. We want to provide context around the meal you are having, while being able to tell our story which hopefully results in a meaningful experience for our guests.
In addition to our core experience, we also offer the special ONE DISH pop up. These dinners have ranged from as small as 100 to as large as 250 people. We take over a space and prepare one signature item, such as Indian Fried Chicken, Biryani or Indian Curry and sell that alongside a few snacks and/or dessert. The goal here was to really focus on one dish, make it great and provide a more affordable and quicker option than our supper club format.
Lastly, we offer FULL RESTAURANT TAKEOVERS. During these experiences, we work with some of our local restaurant friends and takeover their restaurant with a special menu only available for the duration of the event. We've done one night only takeovers at City House, Butcher & Bee and Le Sel, where we work with the kitchen teams to feature a collaborative menu showcasing both the spirit of the restaurant we are in, with flavors and techniques from our culinary point of view. We also set up residencies, where we are available for more than one night, such as our Treehouse brunch series, where we set up shop every Sunday for six weeks to serve brunch or our four nights dinner series at Dabble Studio.
Now, we also offer the Supper Club format as a PRIVATE PARTY, so if you want us to show up at your house and cook for your friends, we'd be thrilled to talk to you. Usually once a month, we also offer COOKING CLASSES with our friends at The Kitchen.
WHAT TYPE OF FOOD DO YOU SERVE?
We serve SOUTH ASIAN AMERICAN FOOD.
But, it took us a while to figure out what that is. When I started, I cooked from a lot of different cuisines and was figuring out a lot of things - how to feed a crowd, how to develop menus, how to position myself to execute a dinner successfully, etc. I'm also a social science nerd, so I was constantly looking at the cultures behind the cuisine and what they represent. Looking back, I can see through the menus where my head was at.
Years later, I'm a more confident cook with a precise definition of my style of cooking. I call it "South Asian American Food." I don't call it Indian, because I believe that Indian food in this country makes people think of chicken tikka masala, naan bread and rice. These dishes which aren't even Indian, really hamper the ability of Indian cuisine to progress. Indian food, in my opinion, is the most regionally diverse food in the world. India is a country of over 29 states, each with different cultures, religions, cuisines and growing climates. It's vastly diverse and what most people eat in Indian restaurants comes from 1 out of 29 states.
The immigrant generation - mostly my parents generation - came to America to earn a better life and provide a better foundation in life for their children. When they started Indian restaurants, they cared about making money and paying their bills by producing Indian food for Americans. Later, we started to see creative immigrant chefs do fusion cuisine. They came to America and saw Mexican food, Italian food, American food and said - why can't we incorporate some Indian flavors into these cuisines?
The next story, I believe, is the one of first generation Americans, like myself. I was born in Manchester, TN and raised American. Yet, my parents, grandparents and family taught me the importance of knowing my Indian heritage, culture and traditions. It's one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. I was lucky to cook with my grandmother's sister for a few weeks when she came to visit us and it was, without a doubt, when I truly became interested in making Indian food. For an Indian American, I don't cook Indian food for Americans or Indian fusion food. I want to make food that is true to its heritage. We may present it differently or adjust the cooking technique, but the heart, soul and flavor of a dish must come through.
I hope when Indian people eat my food, they can close their eyes and be transported back home. And I hope when Americans eat my food, they can look at it and say, "hey, that looks familiar." Because at the end of the day, I am both South Asian and American. Now, my food and VEA Supper Club embrace it.
At the end of the day, it's all about delivering something tasty on your plate, something you haven't had before and hopefully something you'll come back for.
Thanks for coming and I hope to see you at dinner soon.
Founder, VEA Supper Club