Susie Corbin has been cooking professionally since 2018 when her career kick-started in London. Since they she has had two head chef roles, including at Thyme Kitchen in Lichfield, as well as being director of her own business. Today, she runs SKC Supper Clubs in Egginton, a monthly feast held in a beautiful glasshouse, as well as a handmade sourdough business. The next supper club is on March 23rd.

Tell us a little about SKC Supper Clubs.

I started SKC Supper Clubs in 2022 after having worked at them back in London. I saw there weren’t many, if not any, in Derbyshire and wanted to bring that foodie experience to the county. We host monthly supper clubs, as well as private events and dinners, and we also launched our sourdough bread delivery branch of the business last year.

We provide an enchanting experience for our guests, using local suppliers wherever we can, and use our own homegrown produce from our estate in our recipes, such as herbs, tomatoes and, in May, we make our own cordial from a wild elderflower bush in the gardens.

What do you think about International Women's Day?

It’s a fabulous day to see people supporting women in many different industries, and each year there’s always something new to learn about the incredible achievements we have made. However, it’s also crucial to highlight that there’s still an enormous gender gap in almost every sector, and as a female chef in a typically male dominant industry, I have a responsibility to prove that these spaces are available to us, and that we deserve to be there.

Who are some of the women who have inspired or inspire you?

To name a very small few of the many; Nancy Silverton for being a tenacious powerhouse in the food industry and proving that it’s ok to command spaces where you feel you are worthy. Christina Tosi for reminding me that there should always be an element of fun involved in cookery. Samin Nosrat, because her approach to creating a dish completely changed the way I cook; she had a similar road to professional cookery as I did, and she will always inspire me. I read her book Salt Fat Acid Heat at least twice yearly! And of course, Beth Toovey. She’s the owner of Thyme Kitchen and Sauce Supper Clubs and has an unlimited supply of energy. She is a true inspiration as a female leader, and one of the reasons that I too wanted to be a female business owner.

What piece of advice would you give to women hoping to forge a career as a chef?

Know your worth and know your strengths. If you need help with something, there is no shame in asking. In fact, I think it can be more powerful than suffering in silence. The good chefs will always help.

When I first entered the chef world, I knew next to nothing about how to cook professionally, but I would go home and practice recipes until they were right, and always ask my boss to taste test or show me how to correct a mistake I’d made.

First dish you learned to cook?

I had a weird obsession with cake making when I was around 12 or 13, and they almost all turned out with something wrong with them. I remember once I added a whole bottle of blue food colouring into a chocolate Victoria sponge cake, and although it did nothing to the colour it tasted awful. I got the hang of it eventually.

Most vivid childhood food memory?

I used to experiment a lot with stuff I could find around the house. I was about seven and my grandparents were over, so I decide to make some canapés. I took the middle bit out of a few slices of cheap bread, squidged it together and rolled it into balls, then rolled that into instant coffee granules and called them ‘coffee balls’. My grandmother said it tasted like burnt toast which she loved, but 25 years on, I’m actually not sure she ate any.

Most memorable meal out?

I was incredibly fortunate to go to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons by Raymond Blanc a couple of years ago, and whilst the food was obviously amazing, it was the gardens surrounding that just blew mind. They have a huge plot where they grow all their ingredients, which inspired me to bring that same practice to SKC Supper Clubs when we began. I think there’s something so humbling about cooking with fruit and vegetables that you’ve grown yourself.

Favourite ingredient?

Maldon Sea Salt. It’s my desert island object.

Your go-to snack?

Sourdough toast, without a doubt. Since we started the sourdough delivery business there’s always some leftover bread on the go, most days it’s what I’ll have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Heavy on the butter, topped with flaky salt or Marmite.

If you weren't a chef, what would you be doing?

I trained as a professional actor for three years at drama school and worked for about five years in acting jobs, but as soon as I was asked to help out in the kitchen at a cafe I was part-time waitressing at, I fell in love with cooking and knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So potentially I’d be on the stage, if not, another creative profession.

Your dream dinner guest, and why?

Diana Henry. She demonstrates how to properly use fruits and vegetables as a way to add texture, flavour, and sophistication, not just something to eat when you’re ’trying to be healthy’. I’d love to listen to her talk about food.

What's your guilty food pleasure?

Batchelor’s Supernoodles - chicken and herb. Drizzled in toasted sesame oil and topped with coriander, a soft-boiled egg and chilli flakes. So trashy, but so good. There’s always a packet in the cupboard.

Who are your Derbyshire food and drink heroes?

It has to be the English Wine Project in Darley Abbey. They make the most fantastic wines from their vineyard at Renishaw Hall that we use alongside our suppers. They really make our experience come together in our mission to celebrate Derbyshire produce.

A hospitality industry person who inspires?

Tom Shepherd: when I moved back from London during 2020, Tom and I shared a kitchen together for about 2 years at Thyme Kitchen, Lichfield where I was head chef. Tom was making dine at home meal kits, while building his Michelin star restaurant Upstairs and I learned so much from him. He’s the total opposite of your typical head chef - he’s down to earth, generous with his cookery knowledge and was always there to offer a helping hand.

A place you love to eat?

The Boot, Repton. They offer Michelin quality food throughout the week, and their Sunday Roast is second to none. It’s just down the road from us so it’s always been the go-to place for a drink or a meal.

A career highlight?

I created a dish called Persian Eggs when I worked at Thyme Kitchen, that was recommended by The Sunday Times Style Magazine. I was still so new to the industry, it felt like winning an Oscar.

What's next for you and SKC Supper Clubs?

We’ve just released the dates for all our monthly supper clubs in 2024, including some themed evenings such as Italian, French and Spanish suppers. We hope to keep meeting new people at our events, it’s one of the best parts of the job.

What wish do you have for 2024?

I’d love to see more female head chefs in the industry, not only in high end establishments but across the board. I know so many talented women that create the most amazing food, but there are still so many barriers, and truly ancient stigmas preventing women from being placed in leading positions.

I was unbelievably lucky to have been hired by female business owners, but unfortunately there are still so few women given those opportunities where they can shine.

Susie’s favourite dish

‘I love this chestnut mushroom ravioli with crispy sage and brown butter,’ says Susie.

Great British Life: Chestnut mushroom ravioli with crispy sage and brown butter.Chestnut mushroom ravioli with crispy sage and brown butter. (Image: Susie Corbin)