Marlon’s Kitchen Supper Club - A Colombian Chef in London

Supper Clubs are all the rage in London and Latino supper clubs hosted by London’s plethora of superb Latin American chefs are no exception. Corina Poore visited Marlon’s Kitchen in Fulham and emerged enlightened and inspired as her taste buds tingled
Corina J Poore

Some of you may have seen the film Chocolat (2000) with Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Alfred Molina. It is a tale of a woman and her daughter who open a chocolate shop in a small French village. It turns out that Binoche’s chocolates are so fine and delicate they send people into a trance. Having tasted many chocolates over time, I nevertheless found it hard to understand the overwhelming ecstasy that overtook Molina (the town mayor) when he got an opportunity to gorge on said chocolates to the total disgust of the snobbish villagers who considered Binoche a harlet.

Well I now understand!

I had the opportunity to share one of Marlon’s Kitchen Experiences at their ‘Supper Club’. It was not all chocolate, but the experience of exultation was similar, as we discovered an array of new flavours and combinations that were truly entrancing.

Marlon (hence Marlon’s Kitchen) is a Colombian Chef who, before coming to the UK, worked in several Michelin star restaurants in Madrid and Valencia, learning from Ricard Camarena, Vicente Patiño and Alberto Chicote. In London his first job was for Tom Aikens, who was awarded 2 stars.He agrees that once there is a Michelin star, all hell breaks loose and the stress is phenomenal, but he says that is exactly where you learn to perfect your art, and learn it he did! He cooks with imagination, love and passion and this comes through in the flavours.

Marlon and his partner Lana, make an excellent team. He concentrates on the food and she takes care of all the organizing and PR, skills at which she has proved to be very proficient. Her warmth and friendliness makes you feel instantly welcome and at home. As for Marlon: “I can mix Colombian with English and Spanish Food. Sometimes I might have a Colombian or a Spanish night, but mostly it is Marlon’s night!"

It would be easy to get addicted to food of this high quality. Marlon likes to add some unexpected surprises that are not in the printed menus. The portions are precise but after the many dishes offered, you realize you could not fit another morsel. I am still kicking myself for being unable to have more!  Michael, the wonderful resident Jack Russell that kept us all company, clearly put paid to any need for doggie bags. The personal touch was special, the fresh wild mushrooms had been foraged by Lana herself and so we were confident we would be neither tripping nor passing out!

One of the specialities of Marlon’s Kitchen is the prevalence of sous-vide cooking. This is French for “under vacuum”.  This is a slow method of cooking at low temperatures in a vacuum sealed pouch. It is steamed or placed in water. The Lamb shoulder that we ate, was cooked at 85° for 12 hours, and the loin for 1 ½ hrs at 53°. This meant that the shoulder was beautifully tender and melted in your mouth while the loin was still gently pink, and not overcooked.

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In a way, this vacuum method is reminiscent of some tribal and traditional slow cooking techniques where food is buried wrapped, in some Tropical areas, in banana leaves, smothered in hot embers and buried in the ground. In some cases, it can be left overnight.  It has to be eaten to be believed. The sous-vide method used by Marlon is the closest thing we have and worth every hour of cooking!

However, not everything is cooked slowly. Marlon admits to being partial to the Fideuá. This is a sort of paella, where rice is replaced with vermicelli, and often using cauliflower fragments replacing and using the octopus juice, while adding the octopus sections. Marlon learned the art of paella and other rice dishes in its cradle – Valencia, Spain.Not having to wait for the rice meant it was cooked rapidly and served on the spot, fresh and radiant. One guest did not like Octopus (Oh, what he missed!) and had a version with pork which was also very tasty.   

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Another favourite is Arepa de Huevo, which is deep fried. The Arepa is traditionally from Venezuela, a sort of bread bun made from Harina Pan, (a white pre-cooked corn meal) that can be gently fried or cooked in the oven. There are versions with meats but the Arepa de Huevo (with egg) is unique to Colombia. Placing a raw egg inside which requires quite a skill and this version has had resounding success at the Supper Clubs, catering events and is very popular at street food festivals.

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The Supper club has been running for some years now. When they began they had only eight enthusiasts and it was hard to get people, now they are almost turning people away. At their modest venue in Fulham they can cater for 20 at a time, but now at the end of October, they will be holding a larger supper club at a bigger venue due to demand.

The Supper Clubs give Marlon an opportunity to experiment and create new recipes. He is keen to see which dishes are most appreciated and uses this to improve on his other larger events. We were two of us and we joined another four at the table to make six. Part of the delight was to also have a social experience and meet interesting and fun people while sampling Marlon’s delicacies. A number of people are already enthusiastic regulars and get quite miffed if it gets too full to accommodate them! The club operates once or twice a month and you join the mailing list online.  At the moment, it is informal and tickets are not sold online. I suggest you get on the mailing list pronto and pray to be invited.

“It is good because the customers become friends, friends become customers and then when you do bigger jobs for them it is just like Perpetua Mobile, it is just fun.”

 Fun for all indeed!

For more information:

Next supper club evening  will be on October 19th @7:30 pm

Menu on Sept 14th 2017

Canapés:   Brioche, Charcuterie, Pickles

Entreés:  Beetroot cured salmon, Horseradish with watermelon.

Main taster:       Octopus & Cauliflower Fideuá

Main:  Lamb (Shoulder and Loin), Chanterelles, with Jerusalem Artichoke pureé

Pudding:  Chocolate, Rhubarb Sorbet with salty coconut creme

Proper Coffee and Pettit Four (with Passion fruit custard)

Other popular dishes include:

Vichyssoise (soup) with lulo creme fraiche (naranjilla o fruto) and husk berries, served with albojabanas (buñuelo / bollo) cake made of cheese & flour.

Also Arepa de Huevo / quimbolitos/ Tamales wrapped in plantain leaves.  

Lulo & white chocolate mousse – green plantain – pineapple praline – blackberry for dessert.