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Dishing Up The Ultimate New Year’s Eve With Billy And Jack

TOAST chats to supper club supremos Billy and Jack about what they have in store this coming New Year!

As the end of the year approaches TOAST chats to supper club supremos Billy and Jack to hear what they’ve been up to this year and to find out what’s in store for 2018, plus they share two of their tasty recipes and their top tips for hosting the ultimate NYE bash this year.



Since appearing on BBC One’s fierce cooking competition Masterchef in 2016, Billy and Jack have taken the supper club world by storm. As individual contestants they both got through the show’s coveted final three but were pipped to the championship post, not that it seems to matter - quite the opposite in fact. As with most televised competitions it is often the runners up that go on to thrive - and these two food-obsessed cooks take great pride in being Masterchef ‘losers’.

Masterchef was exciting, enjoyable, stressful, strange! When you walk through the doors into the studio for the first time it really was like a dream, likewise cooking with so many great chefs and inspirations, you have to pinch yourself!” enthuses Billy.

“It was intense!” adds Jack.

“It was basically like cramming in a degree whilst working full time, coming back in the evening and cooking for 5-6 hours five nights a week – and all in three months! The upside is you get very good at cooking as you are practicing so much!”

Regardless of the fact that they didn’t win both Billy and Jack still managed to charm viewers across the nation with their playful, quirky takes on classic British dishes, and when the show came to an end, instead of hanging up their aprons, they decided to join forces and become two foodie peas in a Billy and Jack pod.

“I am the tidy one! I am chef, content creator, and a big fan of carbs,” grins Jack.

“And I am the messy one! Also sous chef and serial dishwasher loader” adds Billy.

For the first year after the Masterchef cameras had stopped rolling, both of the boys were working part time and managing to cram in one-off supper clubs, menu consultancy work, media appearances, food festivals and more, but as demand for the pair increased they decided to give their full concentration to their mutual business earlier this year.  

‘We decided to go full time because it really became more than a hobby when we could see us supporting ourselves and crafting an actual career in food. For us this is about making sure we’re still able to cook and write and create dishes for years to come” explains Jack.

Despite having more time on their hands, Billy and Jack have been Busy with a capital B; this summer they took their supper club to a trendy beach club on the Greek island of Zante, and then went on to host a huge 3 day event for the launch of the Google Home. In August they also found time to put on a hugely successful month-long supper club at the Southbank Centre, offering hungry diners a chance to sample the boys’ fun and inventive dishes whilst enjoying breath-taking views from the top of one of London’s iconic landmarks. The menu included salted Cornish sardines with heritage tomatoes and roasted quinoa, Notting Hill Carnival-inspired jerk hangar steak, and the boys’ cheeky tribute to the iconic Fab ice lolly.

“As it was summer we really let the ingredients speak for themselves with a few of our touches and some different ingredients, like rabbit and sardines” explains Billy.  

“I used to live on the Notting Hill Carnival route so we had to get some jerk spices in there! So we went against the norm of chicken and did a jerk hangar steak main course with fermented pineapple and chilli relish!”

In a world where food can sometimes take itself very seriously and risk being significantly pretentious, these two adventurous, down-to-earth cooks are a breath of fresh air. They are genuinely passionate about produce, good ingredients and enjoying the process of both cooking and eating.

Billyandjack

“We cook generous, tasty, contemporary British food. We’re really inspired by the classics so we like to use these as a base and reinvent them, like our cornflake custard tart or our take on cottage pie” explains Jack.

“Our cheesy chips dish always goes down well too – it’s potato terrine, which are basically potatoes slow cooked in butter, served with a three-cheese sauce, truffle and onions. We always use seasonal ingredients, and try not to take it too seriously!”  

A recent collaboration with trendy pizza chain Crust Bros saw Billy and Jack develop several pizzas designed for brunch including the ‘Haters Gonna Hate’ - topped with chestnut and porcini mushrooms, cheddar, taleggio, mozzarella and Marmite. Yes, Marmite. They also recently joined forces with American bar and restaurant Christopher’s in central London, creating a feast of spiced venison doughnuts, chicken and truffle waffles and a peanut butter parfait paired with strawberry and pink peppercorn marshmallows. It seems that there is no end to Billy and Jack’s gastronomic imagination. 

Crustbros

Crist Bros Avo

Crust Bros Billy Jack

Crust Bros Ice Cream

Crust Bros Pizza

“It’s a bit cliché, but inspiration does really come from everywhere. Instagram in particular is an amazing tool to keep up-to-date with what is happening all over the world” explains Billy.

“You can’t beat travelling though, I’ve just got back from a 1000 mile trip up the east coast of America, the elevated southern food in South Carolina in particular”

In between their numerous collaborations, pop-up events and extensive travels, Billy and Jack are currently working on their very first cookbook and also offer a private catering service – cooking up a storm for brands and private individuals for a multitude of occasions and celebrations.

“People generally get in touch via our website and we chat to see what sort of thing they are after and if we’re the right fit and we go from there!” enthuses Jack.

At their core is of course their renowned supper club offering; whether it’s on the roof of the Southbank Centre or on the beach in Greece, the popularity of the supper club concept as a whole has increased dramatically over the past 5-10 years and Billy believes that it shows little sign of stopping.

“This is a really interesting topic as we’ve noticed within the last 12 months a lot more choice in terms of offerings and ideas becoming available” he explains. 

“Like all food offerings it won’t stand still, and will continue to evolve as the market grows. I think we’ll see more supper clubs happening in established bricks and mortar restaurants who will use it as a way of offering something different to guests”

“People are definitely up for experiences with more of an immersive concept - you see this in supper clubs all the way through to events such as Secret Cinema. We like to focus on creating a relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy the food and company. Our menus can be a little off the wall sometimes but never to the detriment of the dinner, or so we hope!” adds Jack.

One big celebration that is fast approaching is of course New Year’s Eve, which, speaking of Marmite, does seem to divide opinion – some love it, some absolutely hate it. I suspect the latter is due to previously bad experiences of this momentous night – loud, expensive nightclubs (I’m really showing my age now…), zero ways of getting home and a stonking great hangover on the first day of the New Year to boot. But I am here to let you know that NYE doesn’t have to been a disaster – quite the opposite in fact. Nothing beats an intimate dinner party shared with friends, and super chefs Billy and Jack’s mouth-watering menu, which you’ll find over on TheEDIT now….

“I love New Year’s Eve, but I prefer it when you don’t go out. I’d much rather spend it cooking!” grins Billy.

“Yeah I’m more of a ‘stay in, cook and enjoy it with friends and family’ sort of person – I’m not so keen on traipsing around London! There have been some memorable ones I think – although I can never really remember all that well what happened on NYE!” laughs Jack.

And of course once the guests have gone, the dishwasher loaded and the Alka Seltzer consumed it’s time to embark on 2018, and I wonder what the New Year holds in store for this dynamic duo, and what future foodie trends they think might await us all.

“I think the interest in vegetarianism and veganism will continue to grow - I’m not into it, but more interested in ‘plant first food’ where vegetables or pulses become the hero and meat or animal products are there to add flavour. It’s a more sustainable way of eating and a nice challenge for us to think of how to cook in this way” explains Jack.

BJ Cooking

“Having eaten a vegan meat burger – i.e. veggies that taste like meat, not meat that’s veggie - I can confirm that it’s really good and bound to be over here soon!” adds Billy.

“And for us - more supper clubs, hopefully a residency or two, more recipe development, book writing, TV, eating…” Jack says hopefully, and it seems that Billy agrees.  

“Yeah - what he said!”


For Billy and Jack’s top tips for hosting the ultimate NYE then head over to TheEDIT now, where you’ll also find two of their mouth-watering recipes perfect for a seriously delicious NYE dinner party.

If you’d like to work with Billy and Jack you can find more information on their page in TOAST’s Little Black Book

 

Posted in Spotlight

by Sophie Farrah
on on 14 December 2017

 

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