We’re so excited to introduce you to Sophie McIntyre—the founder of Club Sup where she hosts intimate pop-up dinner parties that turn strangers into friends.
Food is a wonderful mechanism that connects people. For Sophie, the simple act of being together and the conversations we have at mealtimes is just as important, if not more important, than the food itself. Through Club Sup, Sophie creates opportunities for people to connect with someone new over something new.
We had a conversation with Sophie about…well…conversations! It can be daunting meeting new people and making friends in your 20s and 30s, which is exactly what Club Sup remedies. We asked Sophie the best way to strike up a chat with a stranger, what to expect when attending a Club Sup soirée, and how to make dinner at home more conducive to conversation.
Hey Sophie! What’s new in your world?
I am working on hosting the club every second week or so in Melbourne, with our first club to be hosted in Sydney this week. I moved into a new home earlier this year and thankful that I have a space to create. In the next half of the year I will start sharing more hosting/cooking tips with community so that you might be able to host your own supper.
We simply love Club Sup. For the people who don’t know about it, can you share what it is and how it came about?
Club Sup is a supper club for people in their 20’s and 30’s to come together and connect over a shared meal and a few wines. It started in March of 2021 I loved the sense of community that was built during the 2020 lockdowns and hated the idea that we might all go back to being flakey and ghosting each other once “life” resumed. I wanted there to finally be space in the community that you could come to if you were feeling a bit lonely or your 3rd friend just announced their engagement and you’re still swiping, or you changed jobs and never met your work mates. Or maybe you woke up from 2020 and realised some of your relationships didn’t serve who you were anymore.
I’m sure bringing a bunch of strangers together can result in some clunky awkward silences at the beginning. How do you help guests deal with the initial awkwardness?
I always ask everyone if they want a wine first and they sigh a big yes. Wine seriously helps, maybe it’s the wine or maybe it’s just having something to do with your hands that makes you feel calm. I always ask the question ‘what did you do today?’, never ‘how was your day?’ because everyone comes back with ‘it was good.’
(In addition to her gorgeously decorated tables, Sophie also lays out colouring-in sheets with conversation prompts to foster a sense of playfulness and get people chatting! She’s kindly shared it with us which you can download here to include in your next dinner party.)
How do you introduce people at Club Sup? Is it the classic ‘say your name and three facts about yourself’? Two truths and a lie? Haha
In this respect I am the worst host. Once I get you sorted on the wine I say “my job is done” everyone there is in the same spot. Everyone is so nervous but the best way to push through that quickly is to say “Hi I am X” to an absolute stranger. You are always met with the warmest hello and then its easy from there. No cheesy ice breakers at the club at all.
What's a conversation starter that gives the most interesting answers or insight into a person?
“What are you most grateful for now and why?” It can be a deep or a light question that gives you such insight into what a person values or is valuing at that point in their lives.
Eating dinner in front of the TV is one way to really kill a conversation. How can people set up a dining space at home to encourage connection?
Gosh I hate dinner in front of the TV but sometimes it has to be done though. At home with my boyfriend we have dinner at the table any time we are home together. One of us will cook and the other will set the table and make sure there’s water etc. and sometimes I’ll go as far as to light a dinner candle. Dinner is such a meditation on your day, it is a closure to the day, it deserves a bit of love and respect. The food you cook deserves that too. Even if I am alone I’ll eat at the table mainly because I am such a messy eater.
Just setting the table and adding all the bits on top the table. Lighting a candle and turning the lights down low creates a warm space. Serving things at the table helps too!
Dinner at the table is a no content zone for us, even at the club no one gets their phones out really because they’re so busy talking. Our days are full of screens dinner should absolutely not be a time for that.
You’ve spoken about how people in their 20s and 30s find it difficult to make new friends. Why do you think this is the case?
I think it’s hard because it’s believed for a lot of people in their 20’s there are opportunities to create friends. There are for sure but a lot of it comes down to who and where you went to school. I think everyone thinks that you were meant to meet all your friends at school or uni and then pick a few up at work and you’re good to go. It’s not spoken about how you can fall through the cracks during this time and not find your people for whatever reason. But also the last few years have changed the social landscape so much for people in their 20’s – 30’s. For a lot of people who were a few years off having children it sped it up, if you’ve remained single during this time it would have been difficult. A lot a of people had to move back in with their parents for financial reasons. All of these things are isolating and the pandemic forced us to confront our loneliness because it was talked about for the first time.
At Club Sup, are the conversations just as important as the food itself?
The conversations are everything—the food and wine is a mechanism to get everyone talking and connecting. We didn’t reinvent the wheel, it has been done for as long as there has been food and wine.
What’s something that people should talk about more over meals?
How they’re going and what’s going on in their lives. Whenever I sit down with my boyfriend or friends we talk something new we’ve learnt recently or something that has surprised us recently.
How can people stay connected after attending a Club Sup dinner?
Usually someone makes a group chat where everyone is added and these little chats beat on with someone throwing out an invite to a gallery or a gig. I know of a few dinners that have happened on Sunday evenings. Sometimes I’ll organise a pub dinner for Club Sup alum that I call ‘Pub Sup’.