Out of the frying PAN and into the fire for amateur cook

A keen amateur cook who hosted a pop-up supper club at home for 40 strangers on national TV held the same sell-out event in Berkhamsted at the weekend.

Tuesday, 17th November 2015, 9:00 am
Tom Dudderidge, left, is hosting a pop-up supper club in Berkhamsted's Cafe In The Attic, above Home & Colonial. On the right is his friend and cafe manager Joe Burns

Tom Dudderidge, 38, hosted the dinner party at his home near Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire for All Four’s My Pop-Up Restaurant programme after his family nominated him for the show.

The episode was aired on November 3 but far from being put off cooking forever, the businessman says he ‘loved’ the experience and says it has been the catalyst to spur him on to following his dream of working with food.

The dad-of-four held a supper club – which he calls PAN – at The Cafe In The Attic on Saturday, (November 14) after his friend and cafe manager Joe Burns asked him to recreate the TV menu in the restaurant above Home & Colonial on the High Street.

Mr Dudderidge treated 40 foodies to a five-course tasting menu, which paid homage to British, Italian, Peruvian, French, Thai and Chinese cuisine.

Mr Dudderidge said: “I’m the self-appointed family chef and growing up, family gatherings were always about the food.

“My mum is an amazing cook and my dad is a real foodie, so it’s always been a big part of my life.

“If I had to choose my favourite cuisine, I think it would be Italian.

“But I really like Asian food too so if I was stuck on a desert island, I would probably swim to another island so I could have both!”

My Pop-Up Restaurant follows amateur cooks who love being in the kitchen as a hobby, but they are truly put to the test when a gaggle of hungry strangers turn up at their home to be fed.

Mr Dudderidge said: “When I did the show, I felt surprisingly calm even though I had 40 strangers in my house.

“I had so much fun and it reignited a passion and a drive inside me, and I knew this was what I wanted to focus on.

“I enjoyed it so much that I woke up the next morning wanting to do it all over again!”

On Saturday, 40 people tucked into a trio of ceviche, handmade butternut squash ravioli with a sage butter, Chinese wonton soup, jasmine-smoked rib of pork, Italian porchetta with a pear and vanilla tarte tatin to finish.

The evening supported local produce in a big way, with all the meat on the menu sourced from Eastwoods of Berkhamsted, the butchers on Gravel Path.

There was a selection of beers from the town’s Haresfoot Brewery available and for an extra £3, each course was wine-matched with tipples chosen by local wine merchant The Flying Corkscrew.

Mr Dudderidge, who has started writing a food blog, said: “Berkhamsted is a really great place to be doing it, and I thought finding an appropriate location would be difficult but Cafe In The Attic is perfect.

“It’s a really unique building and a bit of a hidden treasure.”

This new venture is rather different from Mr Dudderidge’s former line of business.

He founded successful iPod accessories firm GEAR4 in 2004, but recently sold it after he decided he wanted a change of direction.