Aficionados of daytime telly won’t have missed the popularity of shows like Come Dine With Me which offer people the chance to cook food for strangers who then rate it.
The Channel 4 programme skillfully taps into one of the social vogue of our times, the idea people possess that they’re brilliant cooks because their spouses and friends tell them so.
Those most intoxicated by this self-belief might try their hand at Masterchef only to find out via that bald bloke from Seasalter they’re not.
Others might try a different route: the supper club. Essentially pop-up restaurants in people’s homes, supper Clubs have become incredibly popular in London.
Strangers pay a fixed price to dine in your home. Usually, guests bring their own drink and the clubs create a convivial atmosphere as everyone is seated around just one or two tables. Their prices tend to be a fraction of what you might pay in a high end restaurant.
Now they’ve started appearing in east Kent with listings in Whitstable and Faversham.
Dom Potts is a former Simon Langton schoolboy who now works as a senior manager for a chain of upscale restaurants in central London.
The 42-year-old returned to Kent to try a supper club just outside Canterbury where he and two companions enjoyed a five-course Thai meal.
He said: “It was in a large house, it had to be given that there were 20 people eating around two tables. Some of the people obviously knew each other and there was a couple out on a second date.
“But five came individually and were using the night as a kind of dating experience. I felt for them slightly because three of them were a little odd and there were times when they ran out of conversation.
“One bloke barely touched his food and kept going to the toilet so I don’t know what was going on there.”
The couple hosting the night Dom attended were a City of London worker and his wife who explained that she enjoyed creative pursuits.
They had also hired three staff to help with preparation and service.
Dom went on: “The food was passable, not outstanding, but excellent value for the portions we received.
“It’s a bonus that you can bring your wine because then you don’t run the risk of being given something poor.
“Unlike a restaurant, you probably won’t find a large range in a private house and people may not want to open expensive bottles if they think that they’re only go to serve one or two glasses.”
Some supper clubs are mere hobbies for their hosts, some run as small ventures for people seeking a little extra income and some take their efforts seriously.
One supper club website even offers its guests advice on the etiquette it expects them to abide by.
The age-old question of timing is met with: “Please turn up on time. There’ll be other guests waiting for their meal too and it isn’t fair to keep them waiting either. Conversely, please try not to arrive early!”
And: “Consider the other guests and respect my home – As you would in a restaurant, please keep the noise to a reasonable level and respect the other diners. It’s not a library, but it’s not a rugby changing room either!
“Remember that this is my home too and look after the place – unlike a restaurant, any breakages are likely to be prized personal possessions.”
If the age old adage is that whatever the trend in London, always finds its way eventually to Kent, then it may not be long before they fixture down here, too
Just remember: obey the house rules and be prepared for the odd awkward moment in the company of strangers.