Thursday 20 September 2012

Profile - Edible Experiences

Edible Experiences is one of the most active companies in London supper clubs and pop-ups.  They sell tickets for lots of events, and organise events of their own, for example the Sunday Feasts season.  I wanted to find out more, and luckily founder Wen Lin Soh was willing to answer some questions:

Amir and Wen:
My co-founder and husband Amir and I at an instant ramen making workshop in Osaka, while we were backpacking around the world. The idea for Edible Experiences first sparked on this journey.

Photo credit: Christopher Jeeves

 How did Edible Experiences start?  What was the inspiration, and how long did it take you to get the site & service up & running?

The idea for Edible Experiences first came when my husband Amir and I were backpacking around the world for a year for our honeymoon (2009 / 2010). We were looking for cooking classes and supperclubs in various countries, but searching for them, comparing them, and making a booking was a really slow, tedious and frustrating process. There was no central place on the internet to find foodie activities, whether you were a local looking for a special day out, or a visitor looking to learn about a country's local cuisine. 

So we thought, why don't we come up with a solution ourselves -- build an online marketplace for foodie activities that works the way we want it to work?

We started designing and building the website soon after we got back to London at the end of 2010. Edible Experiences went live with London listings and reviews in August 2011. We started offering instant-confirmation bookings in April this year (2012).

Plusixfive 01:
I co-cheffed a trial supperclub dinner with Goz of Singaporean supperclub Plusixfive (Dec 2010). Chef Ben Greeno of Young Turks / Momofuku's Seiobo in Sydney was our first guest! Thankfully he liked the food! Plusixfive was Edible Experiences' first supperclub host client. 

Photo credit: Edible Experiences

How do supper club hosts and others work with you?

Foodie activity organisers can contact us to get a profile set up on our site. At this point we do some research on the host - e.g., do they regularly organise scheduled activities of an appropriate foodie nature. Once their profile is set up, hosts can put up event listings for free. 

Hosts have the option to sell tickets through Edible Experiences. Hosts get full control of whether they want to sell some or all of their tickets through us. They have control over their ticket inventory and are able to contact their guests using our self-service platform. 

We take a commission on seats sold through our site, so there's no upfront cost or risk to the host. We make money only when they make money.

Plusixfive 02:
Plusixfive is now a collective of at least 3 chefs. Here Shuhan Lee mingles with the crowd at the Supperclub Summit at the Goethe Institut in South Kensington. The Summit hosted 50 guests per night for some 16 nights this past August (2012). Edible Experiences was the exclusive ticketing partner for the Supperclub Summit

Photo credit: Edible Experiences

What have you learned, and how has Edible Expeiences evolved since it started?

When we started out (early 2011) we didn't think supperclubs and pop up dining events were going to be a big focus for us. At the time there weren't that many of them in London and it felt like many of them wanted to stay underground and secretive. 

But over the last year there's been a groundswell of new supperclubs with a very different approach. They want to be found, because they want to share their family's traditional recipes and style of hospitality with their guests. Dishes which would otherwise be difficult to find in restaurants.             

And while supperclubs are still a very new and foreign concept to many people, we keep meeting diners who are absolutely charmed after having tried their first supperclub. They are won over by the quality and generosity of the food, the warmth of the host, and the thrill of having met and socialised with a few new people at the dinner table over a meal. They're hooked and can't wait to try another one!

Increasingly, folks who traditionally only conduct cooking or baking classes are also starting to host supperclubs. It's a great way to showcase their dishes and culinary expertise, before a guest makes the (larger) financial commitment of signing up for a class.

So supperclubs and popups are keeping us at Edible Experiences much busier than we originally anticipated!

Sunday Feast preview:
I introduce the press to the supperclubs of Sunday Feasts, a 3 month series organised by Edible Experiences at the School of Wok in Covent Garden (Aug 2012). 

Photo credit: Fabio Forin

What are the future plans?  

We'd like to continue to grow in London. The foodie activity scene just keeps getting more exciting and diverse, and our mission is to be the go-to site for foodie activities.

Also, in response to interest from foodie activity hosts based outside London, we're currently getting ready to set up Edible Experiences in the rest of the UK, and also overseas. Watch this space!

Link 1 - Edible Experiences
Link 2 - Edible Experiences on Twitter

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