Meet Jim. Supper Club extraordinaire. For more than 30 years, he’s entertained over 130,000 guests at his Parisian atelier in the 14th arrondissement over an open Sunday supper. All you have to do is drop him a call or email to confirm your place. Complete strangers are more than welcome.
Armed with the instructions on how to reach Jim’s artist studio, my friends and I crossed Paris on the metro with much excitement. Not really knowing what to expect, we entered the big green gates to find a mixed bunch of people sprawled in the courtyard. Yes – this must be Jim’s place!
Perched on a stool in the kitchen, with his specs resting neatly on his nose was Jim. Softly spoken and giving me a cuddle he greets us with genuine enthusiasm and correctly guesses who we were as he ticks us off the list. Then he starts introducing us to all the people mingling around the room…”And this is my friend, Seamus – go and see him for some food”.
Tonight’s dinner is made up of Sorrel Soup, Luxury Fish Pie, Haricot Vert with Garlic, and Strawberry Cheesecake…and not to forget the After Eight dinner mints, of which Jim now has a lifetime’s supply after being the face of their latest ad campaign. All this washed down with a self service “bar” of beer, wine and soft drinks.
Guests’ ages ranged from early 20’s to 80, and clearly we were the youngest bunch there. Mingling wasn’t so daunting for us though, as we had the safety net of our group of 6, along with Zakkiyah, a playwright from New York who we met en route at the metro station as we carefully followed Jim’s detailed instructions – turns out she was counting the 36 steps to his flat too! We meet Wemmy and Frank lawyers from DC who were celebrating their wedding Anniversary in Paris, Antonia an artist from Canada currently living in Edinburgh, Chris and his wife, Jordies who were in Paris for a holiday, and locals Caroline and Julien who was very excited about meeting some Australians after recently moving to Paris after studying in Brisbane, Australia for the past 2 years.
I managed to grab a few moments with Jim to hear how his weekly soiree’s came about. Basically it was all due to an American house guest in the mid 70’s which Jim invited into his home after she had just moved to Paris. In return for his generosity, she offered to cook for Jim and his friends, and from that moment, the Sunday dinners have become a bit of a Parisian institution.
Jim himself doesn’t do the actual cooking, but instead, a volunteer cook will take to the stove each week giving Jim the shopping list, and the neighbourhood shops deliver it.
It’s incredible how Jim has been able to find a volunteer cook for every weekend to keep his Sunday Suppers alive, but it’s a true testament to his ability in bringing people of all walks of life together, starting new friendships and apparently a few marriages too. Everyone loves Jim and what his supper clubs stand for…it’s less about the food, but more about the “people experience”. I know I do…and will definitely go back!
Did You Know?
There is no charge for the Sunday Suppers at Jim’s, but he does ask that guests make a €25 donation in a recycled envelope. Profits from the donations go to various artistic and social projects
Previously a play producer, Jim Haynes helped start up the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As a result, his Sunday Suppers do not run in the last 3 weeks of August so that Jim can attend the Fringe.