In this digital world we live in, where nearly everything is virtual, we can sometimes forget the beauty of ephemeral moments, such as enjoying a slow meal by candlelight with a fun group of people. That’s why Event Designer & Stylist, Imogen Bailey of Native Native has created a seasonal event called the Secret Garden Supper Club. Based in a town in the French Riviera, Imogen was inspired by her natural surroundings and French culture of enjoying a meal with friends. She wanted to create unique, one night only events that brought together the best artisans and local talent. We sat down with Imogen to ask more about her dinner parties.
How did the Secret Garden Supper Club come to be?
When I moved to the French Riviera a couple of years ago, I was really inspired by its botanical diversity, the local produce, and rich cultural history. I started the Secret Garden Supper Club in collaboration with talented local artisans to take guests on a culinary journey and to reveal some of the hidden treasures of this beautiful part of the world.
It sounds like there is so much inspiration. How does the planning process for these dinner parties? Do you have a specific timeline?
When choosing the color palette, styling and decor for our events I discuss the event with the team before selecting colors, decorations and fresh ingredients that reflect the vibrancy and richness of each season. Each dinner incorporates the spirit of slow living by putting the local produce and flora and fauna at the heart of the event and we exchange ideas in the weeks leading up to each event. Each menu of local ingredients is crafted by Kalice Brun and features edible flowers of the season as well as offering guests a creative twist on local forgotten recipes.
How often do you hold such an event? What were some of your previous editions?
Previous editions of Secret Garden Supper Club have been held every season, the most recent edition was set in a secret location selected in collaboration with Native Spaces in the charming village of Mougins. The grey, white and organic tones and textures were all chosen to reflect the mountains and landscape of the French Riviera in winter. The autumn event in October last year was designed to celebrate the joys of the harvest season on the Côte d’Azur. Think warm rustic tones such as deep reds, amber, ochre, and shades of copper. The Spring and Summer editions were set in Julie Guittard’s florist boutique in Nice and celebrated the freshness and botanical diversity of the French Riviera. The very first edition of Secret Garden Supper Club was designed to evoke the mystery of the secret garden – the rich earthy tones, handpainted fabrics and moody backdrop of florals and foliage combined to reflect the beauty and terroir of the region.
The French Riviera is a magical place, but are these dinner parties held anywhere else in the world?
We have some exciting events planned in the coming months in the south of France, but who knows, we may be popping up elsewhere in future!
So if we are in the area and would like to sign up for the Secret Garden Dinner Club, how can we join in?
We’re cooking up some more exciting events this year. You can sign up for the newsletter on the website to be the first in the know.
You mentioned to us that you worked with local artisans, such as ceramicist Eva van Leer. What exactly did you have Eva do for this event?
A dinner party is akin to an artistic experience in that each cannot be recreated. That’s why for this special edition of Secret Garden Supper Club, Eva created beautiful organic candle holders and tableware using the Japanese raku technique. Raku is a special way of making ceramics where the result is impossible to control, therefore making each piece unique.
What tips can you share with us on hosting an elegant dinner party?
To create an elegant take on a seasonal dinner party, color palettes can be inspired by your surroundings such as the wild landscape and light. Use locally sourced ingredients and pay attention to the details that create a sensory experience; each element should be a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.