Chef Tonia Renae: Introducing the Supper Club to Philadelphia

Chef Tonia Renae: Introducing the Supper Club to Philadelphia (Photo: Bruce Loatman @ronin.zero and Tonia Renae)

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Chef Renae has 20 years experience in the restaurant industry with 15 years as a professional chef. She is also the owner, creator, and chef behind Supper Club. Supper Club events are held at private locations consisting of four course dinners, live music, interactive opportunities, and a chance to win prizes which include a free ticket to the next event.Philadelphia, PA - Chef Renae has 20 years experience in the restaurant industry with 15 years as a professional chef. She is also the owner, creator, and chef behind Supper Club. Supper Club events are held at private locations consisting of four course dinners, live music, interactive opportunities, and a chance to win prizes which include a free ticket to the next event.

ToniaRenaePHILLYBITE: When did you first know you wanted to be a chef?

CHEF RENAE: Being a Chef was never a goal, I’ve just always wanted to own my own restaurant. I think I started talking about it around 18, that’s when I realized how much I enjoyed cooking.

PHILLYBITE: Where did you complete your professional culinary arts training?

CHEF RENAE: I initially went to college for Graphic Design and never had the idea of attending a culinary institute. I just enjoyed being in the kitchen and working within the restaurant industry. I spent a lot of time watching the Chef’s at various kitchens I worked in and mimicking their creations at home. I have had some great mentors throughout the years, but it wasn’t until I came to Philly that I attended New Hope Culinary; a program provided by the State of Pennsylvania. This advanced program afforded me a certification as a Sous Chef.

PHILLYBITE: What inspires you most in the kitchen?

CHEF RENAE: Fresh ingredients. If I go out and find a nice cut of beef or a fresh piece of fish and a bag load of veggies from a farmers market or Reading Terminal. This makes for a day of fun for me in the kitchen.

PHILLYBITE: How did you get the idea to start Supper Club and what do you enjoy most about it?

CHEF RENAE: I have done so much to get my name out there as a rookie Chef (catering, personal Chef, meal prep) but nothing came close to my ultimate goal of people enjoying some of my favorite dishes and experiencing the creative side of individual plating. It’s the closest thing to having my own space, the way I would want it to be and people get to experience my food for what it truly is. I enjoy being in charge of everything from the beginning through the end of the entire experience.

PHILLYBITE: How does the Supper Club differ from working in a restaurant?

CHEF RENAE: This is all about my ideas, the theme, menu, and entertainment. I am able to take charge in a way that I can’t when working for someone else. At the Supper Club the only people I have to answer to are my guests. Making sure that they have the best possible experience is my #1 priority. I am also able to limit or increase the number of guests based on the menu as well as availability of products and staff. This also ensures that the guests are having the best possible dining experience I have to offer.

PHILLYBITE: As a Connecticut native, what brings you to Philadelphia?

CHEF RENAE: Wow. This question deserves a whole separate interview within itself…Let’s just say I needed a fresh start. I was a different person back then so coming here was initially about getting my life and myself together. Although I initially had all intentions on going back to CT, I am glad I stayed because Philly has opened opportunities for me that I doubt would have happened for me in CT.

PHILLYBITE: Throughout your career, what accomplishments are you most proud of?

CHEF RENAE: Honestly, I am most proud of the Supper Club. It is the biggest thing I have done thus far. I catered a wedding for 100 people and that was nothing compared to this. The fulfillment I had at the end of my first Supper Club made me feel more accomplished than anything I have done in life thus far - in terms of my culinary experiences.

PHILLYBITE: How do you achieve harmony/balance with each new dish you create?

CHEF RENAE: It’s something in my head is all I can say, the taste, smell, and ideas for the use of ingredients. They are all in my head like a tune to a musician. Melodies are my measurements and I don’t know where they come from, but I follow the measurements. They always lead me to great creations.

PHILLYBITE: What cuisine and/or style of cooking are you most known for?

CHEF RENAE: I don’t have one thing in particular. I guess it depends on whom you ask. My wife swears I make the best meat ever. I have a guy friend who swears by my empanadas. I am happy working with different flavor combinations for Salmon. It all depends on who my clients are; I listen to what they have to say about what they want and then follow the tune to create them something spectacular.

PHILLYBITE: What do you feel is the most difficult part about hosting your Supper Club events?

CHEF RENAE: Ticket sales. I am involved in so many aspects that one of the most important things falls by the wayside – marketing. I’m just not good at it. So I am usually pulling out my dreads up to the last day hoping to sell out so that I can at the very least break even. These events aren’t about making money for me right now. It’s about getting my name out there...selling my brand. So selling out is extremely important to me right now.

PHILLYBITE: What do you enjoy most outside of the kitchen?

CHEF RENAE: Being in someone else’s.... I enjoy trying out different restaurants in Philly and anywhere else I may be. I like to explore the different ambiance and creative ideas that restaurateurs put into their establishments.

PHILLYBITE: What is the ultimate goal that you wish to achieve by hosting Supper Club events?

CHEF RENAE: My main goal as I stated earlier is to get my name out there, but ultimately I plan to open a Café. I would like to establish a following before that time arrives.

PHILLYBITE: Are there any upcoming events you would like to tell our readers about?

CHEF RENAE: I am hoping to have a Mother’s Day Brunch in May; other events will be held in July, September, October, and December.

Chef Renae has a Mardi Gras themed Supper Club event planned for Saturday, March 11th at 6pm, tickets can be purchased online at www.blesssupperclub2.eventbrite.com. To stay informed about upcoming events and Chef Renae’s culinary journey, follow her on Instagram @bless.supperclub and on twitter @BLessSupperClb

 

 

 

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About The Author
Amanda Hafto
Author: Amanda HaftoWebsite: www.haftoeat.com
Writer / Blogger
About Me
I am a foodie who loves to cook and blog about my food! Follow me for a collaboration of recipes, pictures, and local restaurant reviews!
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