Below you'll find answers to the questions that we get asked most often about the Syrian Supper Club. If anything is not covered below, send us an email and we’ll get back to you asap
Where should I hold a Syrian Supper?
You can hold it anywhere. We used to hold ours in the kitchen at home, which is a nice place to start – we now hold them at the E5 Bakehouse in London Fields. You can venture into the wild and have a Syrian picnic sitting on cushions and rugs. If you are thinking big (perhaps you have a tent in mind or a local venue), it is really up to you depending on how many people you want and the size of the Syrian Supper you are planning. Consider a local café or restaurant which might be open to the idea, or your church or village hall?
When should I hold my Syrian Supper?
Any time that suits you! It’s good to think of your guests and when they would be most likely to get involved – a mid-week lunch or supper for some, a proper knees-up on a Friday or Saturday night for others. We hold ours on a Wednesday night to cut the week up nicely.
How many people do I invite?
This is really up to you and depends on your venue. Our tables seat 45, so this is the number we aim for each time. You can start small to get the falafel rolling and grow, or go all out from day one.
What food shall I cook?
Perhaps you are a seasoned chef and your speciality is Kibbeh Labanieh in which case you’ll know exactly what to make. If not, there is a wealth of wonderful recipes out there. We usually use many of these as well as our own adaptations from living in Damascus. Alternatively, ask your nearest Levantine restaurant for inspiration and/or get them involved. See if they could donate dishes for your Syrian Supper – this is a very good way if you are short of time. In London we recommend Abu Zaad, Ayam Zamaan, and Al Waha, these are just a few.
What recipe books are worth trying?
There are some beautiful recipe books which will add a weight of wealth to your culinary shelves, alternatively google their recipes online:
Syria, Recipes from Home - Itab Azzam, Dina Mousawi
Levant - Anissa Helou
Saha or New Feast - Greg and Lucy Malouf
Malouf – Greg and Lucy Malouf
The Lebanese Kitchen – Salma Hage
Moro or Moro East – Sam and Sam Clarke
Jerusalem – Yotam Ottolenghi
Plenty – Yotam Ottolenghi
What about things to drink?
We usually start with a cocktail to get people in the mood; these can contain alcohol or not depending on how you feel. Get mixing with Rose water, Tamarind, Lime, Ginger, Cardamom, Orange Blossom, Thyme, Mulberry etc... For the table, jugs of water with mint leaves and orange slices to add a bit of flavour are nice. As for booze during dinner, we ask guests to bring their own, but this is of course up to you, perhaps you have a cellar full of Levantine good stuff or would rather not drink at all. Another option is to buy a case of wine and sell these to your guests to raise more money, but check out the legals for this!
How do I spread the word on Syria during the dinner?
The personal element is important. Tell your guests why you were inspired to hold a Syrian Supper and that you’d like them to do the same. Ask someone who knows a little or a lot about Syria, has been there, reported on it or written about it. Think journalists, writers, artists and students. You could also show Hands Up’s video which provides some background to the charity and importantly, provides information on where the funds you raise will go. Or we have a flyer for those who prefer to read.
What timings work well on the evening?
This is our order of play for our own supper clubs - it may be a useful guide.
||Doors open, guests arrive for mezze starters and cocktails, standing
||Brief talk from a you/a Syrian friend or someone who knows about Syria on the background to the Syrian Supper Club and where the money from the evening is going
||Guests sit down for main course
||Pudding served and eaten
||A final call to action to guests before they go – encourage them to take on the fundraising mantle and hold their own Syrian Supper Club, or ask for regular giving or a one-off donation to Hands Up.