SuppHER is a Manchester-based supper club powered by women, which has been running events around the city for the past two years.
Founders Anna Søgaard, sous chef at Erst and Kim McBride, former sommelier at Erst and The Creameries and now support worker in the Social Care sector, wanted to create a platform for celebrating female talent in the hospitality industry, whilst also using their skills to raise money for charities supporting women.
We recently caught up with Anna and Kim to find out about creating spaces for women in hospitality, supporting communities and what people can expect from their upcoming International Women’s Day event.
What inspired you to create SuppHER?
A: When Kim and I met while working at Erst, we would often speak about issues affecting women in our community. Eventually we decided to throw a charity dinner to support Trafford rape crisis which is where Kim was volunteering at the time. We wanted to use our skills to bring people together over food and wine and shed light on the issues we cared about while trying to make a difference in any way we could. Later on, SuppHER grew into the collaborative events that they are now that allows us to showcase the many female talents in hospitality.
You donate your profits to a number of women’s charities, can you tell us a bit about the charities that you’re raising funds for?
K: We donate predominantly to small, local women’s charities. When we started SuppHER I was volunteering for Trafford Rape Crisis and just wanted to tell the world about the amazing work that they do, that’s why TRC were the first charity that we donated to. Since then, we have raised money for MASH, who support sex workers in Manchester with provisions, counselling, a needle exchange and so much more. We have donated to Women for Women International who support female survivors of war to rebuild their lives; HostNation UK who are a refugee-befriending charity and our IWD event will raise money for Manchester Women’s Aid who support victims of Domestic Abuse.
One of the main goals of SuppHER is to create a space for women, who are the some of the women you would like to platform?
A: After the first couple of supper clubs we hosted, we had a huge outpour of women contacting us asking if they could get involved. I think that says everything about the women in our industry. They all wanted an opportunity to support not only the women struggling in our community, but also each other. We were so overwhelmed by it and that’s when SuppHER became collaborative dinners. It’s amazing getting to show people how much female talent our industry has. Women in general are so often overlooked and don’t get the same exposure that men do in hospitality.
Can you tell us about the supper clubs you have hosted to date?
K: SuppHER started out as just me and Anna serving 15 guests at Trove but it instantly grew when women in hospitality offered to help out. The wonderful Maya from Breadflower and incredibly talented Jane Walton volunteered at our second event and then women wanted to collaborate with us from Where The Light Gets In, The Creameries, Flawd, Erst and so many other fabulous restaurants and bars in Manchester. As SuppHER has grown we have managed to maintain the initial ethos; we bring talented women together to create a space where they can shine, whilst raising money and awareness for issues affecting women.
What can people expect from your upcoming International Women’s Day supper club?
A: This will be our first all day event. We’ll be hosting a series of hour long workshops with some of our favourite local creatives. Then in the evening we will be serving a four-course dinner with wine pairings. We’ve put together an incredible line up of chefs in Manchester doing amazing things. They’ll each be doing a course. I’m extremely excited for this menu. Anna Carmichael, Zara Hussain, Caroline Martins and I have put a lot of thought into how we can make this one extra special. And Kim has put together a wine list along with two other talented women in wine, Meg Williams and Emily-Rose Lucas. Well be showcasing some very exciting wines made by some pretty impressive women. All of our profits for this event will go to women’s aid.
Can you tell us about the workshops at your supper clubs as well?
K: At our event for International Women’s Day, we have an afternoon of workshops planned by some of our favourite female creatives in Manchester at the minute. At 11am Hannah Elizabeth Flowers is hosting a wreath making workshop using gorgeous dried flowers, at 1pm Kat Wood is hosting a printing with plants cyanotype workshop, at 2.30pm Meg Beamish is teaching a group to make their own plant pots and at 4.30pm Jo Payne from Platt Fields Market Garden is going to teach her group to save tomato seeds, sow them and grow them.
Hospitality is often presented as a male-dominated industry, but there are many talented women within it, do you think supper clubs such as SuppHer have the power to reset the balance?
A: Our hope is that SuppHER and other women-led projects like this will have an impact on the imbalance in power in our industry. We would love for it to have a ripple effect and that exposure will lead to more women in senior roles in food and wine. Until we have more women leading kitchens and restaurants, the industry continues to be a place of inequality that is built from the male view point which simply isn’t sustainable.
What can we expect next from SuppHER?
Honestly, who knows?! We have more exciting supper clubs in the planning for later in the year and we sell wines for local delivery through our website. We both really just want to keep on supporting women and perhaps we will start taking SuppHER outside of Manchester soon too.