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Former Arbennig Chef John Cook Launches New Vegetarian Supperclub ‘DIRT’

Whether you’re already a fully-fledged vegetarian or just thinking of cutting down on meat, you’ll love the sound of DIRT; a new, pop-up vegetarian supperclub starting next month. 

John Cook

Promising a ‘seed to supper’ approach, DIRT supper clubs will use locally grown, sustainable ingredients and innovative cooking to challenge clichéd assumptions about vegetarian food; that it’s bland, unimaginative and unrefined.

DIRT events will ‘pop up’ at venues all over Wales, starting with Llaeth & Siwgr in Cardiff city centre, Cobbles Kitchen in Ogmore and The Beach House in Oxwich Bay.

The chef behind the concept is John Cook, formerly of the critically acclaimed Arbennig restaurant in Pontcanna.

John explained that his recent decision to sell his 80-cover restaurant and start a pop-up business was driven by a new-found passion for vegetarian cooking.

He explained:

“My wife and I have spent the last five years working on something we’re really proud of with Arbennig, so it was obviously a big decision to walk away from that, but I am really excited about what’s next.

I’ve developed a real passion for cooking vegetarian food; it’s what gets me excited in the kitchen, and that’s what I want to share with people when they eat DIRT.”

John’s six-course menu for the first few DIRT events includes dishes like courgette with salted ricotta, mint, cucumber and wasabi; and charred lettuce with potato, green onion, milk curds and sourdough sauce.

Many of the ingredients for the menu will be sourced from an independent grower in Llanblethian in the Vale of Glamorgan.

John continued:

“I wanted to buy directly from local growers so that I could keep everything as fresh and as seasonal as possible; this way, the veg will be pulled straight from the ground and will be on people’s plates within 48 hours.

It also means we can use all of the imperfect, wonky veg that you wouldn’t find in the supermarket but which still tastes absolutely amazing.”

The first two DIRT pop-up events will be held at Llaeth & Siwgr in Cardiff city centre on the 21stJuly, and Cobbles Kitchen in Ogmore on the 26thJuly.

Tickets to the first two events cost £40 per head, and matching wine flights and other drinks will be available to purchase directly from the individual venues on the night.

Alternatively, people can also request a private DIRT supperclub in their own homes.

John explained:

“I want to take the DIRT concept out to people’s homes too; there isn’t as much choice around when it comes to vegetarian private dining, so I hope DIRT will help fix that.”