The Brunch Club

Culinary duo Allison Dent and Stephen Cooper give brunch a new spin.
Story Laura Fletcher
Stephen Cooper and Allison Dent

Imagine going out for brunch and there is no lineup at the restaurant. You are not seated elbow-to-elbow with other diners, and you don’t have to try to catch your overworked server’s eye for a coffee refill. Instead, you are seated at the only table in a warm, cozy room that is tastefully decorated with vintage furniture. A cocktail and a full cup of coffee sit in front of you as you slice into your perfectly poached egg. At your table are a mix of friends and strangers, old and young, and everyone is having a good time. This comfortable togetherness is exactly what Allison Dent and Stephen Cooper, the culinary duo behind the supper club Tuck Together, are creating with their new Vancouver, BC, brunch club.

Kimchi Pancake
Allison Dent’s Kimchi Pancakes & Eggs

A brunch club, a derivative of a supper club, is a culinary experience catered and hosted by a chef, often in their own home. In a sense, the chef hosts a party, and you are the guest. Like most dinner parties, you are welcome to bring wine to share, and you will likely be among a combination of friends and people you have never met before. Dent and Cooper started Tuck Together as a supper club after moving from Vancouver to London, United Kingdom, in 2014. Dent explains their main goal was to “create an atmosphere where strangers could get together and socialize with the common thread being good food.” Dent, a trained chef, develops the menu and cooks. Cooper is a natural at providing attentive and engaging service.

After they created Tuck Together, Dent and Cooper travelled through Southeast Asia for six months before returning to Vancouver. They relaunched Tuck Together with a focus on brunch. Dent and Cooper’s biggest source of inspiration at the moment are the flavours they experienced in South Korea. The brunch menu is a mixture of classic and experimental with items like sourdough buckwheat waffles with Korean braised brisket, homemade kimchi, poached eggs, and espresso hollandaise.

If you have never been to a brunch or supper club, Cooper says, “Rather than a restaurant, it’s a small, intimate experience that brings together like-minded people that are willing and able to be open to other people and experiences.” Dent says that attendees get a unique culinary experience, because the chef has full control over the creation process. Perhaps her favourite part of hosting the dinner parties is, “Being able to create something from start to finish in all its successes and failures. Being able to share that with people for one night is a very special and rewarding experience.”

Allison Dent's Kimchi Pancakes & Eggs

Ingredients

Pancakes

2 cups (300g) kimchi, drained roughly chopped*

1 cup (100g) finely chopped leek

¾ cup (100g) all-purpose flour

¾ cup (100g) rye flour

2 medium-sized free range eggs

4 tbsp sesame oil

3 tbsp kimchi juice

1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil) to fry

Eggs

1 tbsp white vinegar

4 medium-sized free range eggs

Salad

1 generous handful finely chopped kale

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 dash rice vinegar

Instructions

1 In a medium bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of kimchi juice with 1 cup of water and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, sesame oil, and kimchi juice mixture. Add the chopped kimchi and leek, and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, sift the two flours together and create a small well. Pour the egg and kimchi mixture into the centre of the flour well and mix until thoroughly combined, forming a batter.

2 In a skillet or frying pan, heat the grapeseed oil on medium/high. When the oil starts to spit, add a ladleful of batter to the pan and lower the temperature to medium. Use the bottom of the ladle to slightly spread and shape the batter into a nice pancake shape. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until the pancakes are golden brown and crisp.

3 Fill a medium pot of water two inches from the top. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Carefully drop the egg into the centre of the boiling water and reduce the heat to medium. Set a timer for 4 minutes. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and let the water drain by placing on a clean towel.

4Chop the kale into small ribbons. Toss with the sesame oil, soy sauce, and a dash of rice vinegar.

5 To finish, use the kale salad to make a bed on top of the pancake and top with the poached egg. Add the remaining kimchi for garnish and sprinkle with toasted black sesame seeds.

*Save the juice, and set aside some kimchi for garnish. (Allison uses her homemade cauliflower and kale kimchi, but regular cabbage kimchi will also work.)

Dent says that attendees get a unique culinary experience, because the chef has full control over the creation process.