SneakySupperClub by Max Cooper

Having been a chef in a pop-up restaurant in in London before, i knew when i moved back to Oxford three years ago, that i wanted to do something similar here. I just didn’t quite know what, where or how.

Growing up in Oxford i remembered the slightly limited options for eating out well, although there were a handful of good- and great, places to eat, it had felt like a somewhat lacking scene. The reality on my return was that time heals all and 15 years later there were lots of cool and fun places that had arrived serving some really great food.

My partner Genevieve and i thought we could still bring something a little different and have a bit of fun doing it. The loose plan was to get as many people we knew together and feed them slightly fancied up versions of things that we

like to eat and cook and see if it worked.

Although i spent the best part of an amazing year at the Cherwell Boathouse Restaurant as my first chef job in my early 20’s, most of my cooking career has been in event catering. After completing my training at Leiths School of Food and Wine in West London, i was with Rhubarb Food Design for several years where i really cut my teeth.

Other large caterers followed but i migrated to smaller caterers and private chef positions in the quest for more money and a slightly calmer life.

I haven’t yet let go of London completely as i still do a few weeks here and there throughout the year for the odd client and a couple of small but great caterers. When I’m not preparing for a SneakySupperClub i do most of my Oxford based work at Greens Catering in Chalgrove, which is great.

With the quality and precision of the food equal to that of the larger London caterers, and the friendliness and down-to-earthiness of the smaller ones, its a perfect place for me to be. I’m very happy when i can cook great food whist still learning as i go.

Our first SneakySupperClub in October 2016 was thirty-five friends and family eating in a brightly lit church hall, prepped and cheffed my myself and Gen, who i met at Leiths, and served by my brother Olly and our good friend Ellen.

We did a 5 course menu of pork and black pudding fingerwith sweet corn purée and prune syrup, wild mushroom and pecorino raviolo with Jerusalem artichoke, sloe gin cured salmon with pickled beet and courgette salad, glazed short rib of beef with harissa giant cous cous and red cabbage slaw, and a plum fig and blackberry winter mess to finish.

Since then its gone from strength to strength and has evolved into something that I’m really very proud of. Like anything in this industry, there have been moments where its been very difficult, but as long as things work out the way they should in the end, we can still look back on those times with a smile!

Nowadays since having our daughter and one on the way, its mostly just me (with the help of awesome chefs, managers and wait-staff on the day), but Gen still does our delicious sneaky desserts because that’s what she loves to do the most.

We started out in the lovely refurbished Richard Benson Hall attached to St.John Church on Cowley Road, where we had some great SneakySuppers.

At our largest we did 5 courses for 98 diners last February for the post- dry January ‘Doombuster’ supper....with a few more chefs and staff though i might add! We’re now about to do our third event in the barn at the wonderful Isis Farmhouse Pub by Iffley Lock, with a capacity of 72 in the winter months.

Although a somewhat more sneaky location, being along the towpath makes for a romantic and magical experience. Our hosts Noreen and Adrian, the very cool new owners of the pub since last year, play fantastic live gypsy jazz between courses and at the end, which makes the whole night very special.

Our suppers are always served ‘banquet style’ with tables pushed together into long rows so our diners have great fun meeting new people each time.

Although still heavily supported by old friends and family, we now have quite a following of new friends that come regularly, which has made it more of a club than I ever expected.

The latest supper club was held on Frday night. To find out about the next one, email