A chicken liver pâté is a mixture of cooked chicken liver and fat which, when minced together and blended with the right herbs and spices, forms a thick and delicious paste. When spread over a slice of bread, the pâté can transform a mundane loaf into an orgy of flavours. Gastronomical benedictions of its ilk however, still evade the gourmet hunters of the city. Do not fear though, for deliverance is near. Television actress Sampada Vaze, and marketing and hospitality entrepreneur, Peter Freislederer have teamed up to create The Gourmet Club (TGC). Their objective is to explore and feast on glorious food from India and around the world.
SampadaVaze explains the concept. “TGC is an invitation-only club for food lovers. We invite around 60 people for a monthly get together from our mailing list, which comprises more than 500 members. Each session specialises in a specific cuisine, be it Spanish, Italian, Goan or Kashmiri. The delicacies served usually go beyond the traditional menu.” The uniqueness of the menu owes a lot to Freislederer’s extensive insight into esculent matters, gained through several years of food tourism and a stint in the hospitality industry. He coordinates with chefs from some of the city’s restaurants, including Mangiamo, Susegar and Trikaya, to create a one-of-a-kind menu.
In fact, TGC was Freislederer’s idea. “Peter approached my husband, Chris, as a mentor for The Gourmet Club. My husband introduced him to me and since then we have been working together.” While Freislederer handles the food, Vaze works towards expanding the clientele.
The list of members of the club keeps growing as people who know members by association are also invited. To preserve the privacy of members, Vaze refuses to reveal their names. But what little she does tell us indicates that they are a prolific bunch. “We have members from the German embassy, partners at KPMG and Ernest & Young, the creative head of one of the country’s biggest ad agencies, investment bankers, entrepreneurs and one of the pioneers of Mixed Martial Arts in the country.”
“The invitation-only format”, she explains “is to ensure that our event is different from other get togethers. And although entry for the invited is free, members have to pay for the food.” The experience is as important as the food itself, a fact which is evident if one looks at the venues of The Gourmet Club.
“One of our first get togethers was organised at an old, sea-facing bungalow in Juhu. People could just walk out and go for a stroll on the beach. We had another one in Janki Kutir, an art gallery opposite Prithvi Theatre, in Juhu. We ensure that the music matches the culinary theme and so do the accompaniments. For example, we have Indian wine served with Indian food and opera music played in the background while Italian food is being served.”
As the buzz about the club increases, companies who wish to launch their brands amongst their target audience are tying in with them. Spanish wine and low calorie artificial sweeteners have already had regular tie-ins. Considering that it is merely six months and five sessions old, The Gourmet Club is definitely hitting the city’s G spot.