Shanghai is food and drink for supper club founder

Camden Hauge, owner of Egg, Bitter and Bird, aims to provide dining experiences that satisfy on every level.

For Camden Hauge, a perfect eating day starts with waking up early to grab jianbing (fried pancake) and shengjian (fried dumplings) on Xiangyang Road and sipping a cup of coffee from Egg. Walking around a bit enjoying the trees and old houses because “you feel so full.” Then fly to Vietnam to find the lady who schedules different lunch sets on different weekdays before getting back to Shanghai for cocktails at Union Trading or having a beer looking down the Huangpu River. Finally head to Er Guang in Xintiandi for fried pork and sesame wonton for dinner.

Yum. What about late night snack food?

“The 24-hour noodle shop outside my apartment. I eat there like six nights per week, not even kidding,” says the 30-year-old American. “After I finish work in the restaurant around 1:30am, I just want to grab noodles and pass out.”

Hauge is the co-founder of events agency SOCIAL SUPPLY and owner of Egg cafe. Three months ago, she and her partners turned Fat Mama on Wuyuan Road to two different venues — one called Bitter, the other Bird.

The New Jersey native came to Shanghai with a London advertising company five years ago and is now a strong force in the local food and beverage scene.

Betty Richardson / Ti Gong

Camden Hauge, who has been living in the city for five years, is the founder of Shanghai Supperclub, a monthly function to host new groups of people.

Betty Richardson / Ti Gong

Egg is a place for quality food and coffee.

It all started out with a dinner party Hauge threw to introduce the new people she met. That simple idea gradually extended into a cultural exploration. Hauge launched Shanghai Supperclub the same year to host new groups of people in new locations and featuring new chefs for truly one-off experiences. The supper club is celebrating its fifth anniversary this fall.

“The first anniversary party was held in a giant warehouse with 12 different chefs cooking at 12 different tables to celebrate the 12 months,” recalls Hauge. “Everyone was hammered, so I’d say it went well.”

The supper club has hosted events in Beijing, Hong Kong and Japan and is now gradually exploring what different cities have to offer throughout Asia.

Hauge says the key in hosting events is “to be like a duck” — seemingly calm on the surface but paddling hard underneath — because the thing about events planning is that there will always be something going wrong.

Once she forgot to bring bottle opener, and a member from her team ended up spending half an hour opening bottles with his shoe against the wall.

“You have to learn to make quick decisions and don’t show your game face. I’m still very much at the beginning of what I hope will be a long journey to being someone who is a good operator,” she says.

Graeme Kennedy / Ti Gong

SOCIAL SUPPLY's second anniversary party

When Hauge was 10, she made a nine-course meal for her family on New Year’s Eve with a raw food cookbook given by her mother.

“I was super nerdy,” she says. “I used to read cookbooks late night in the bed. My mom thought I was crazy growing up.”

She had a food blog for a while when she was working for the advertising company but, though a lifelong food lover, she had never tried to step into the food and beverage business until arriving in Shanghai.

“People can do so much more in a relatively new market like Shanghai,” says Hauge. “It’s so developed in London and New York that they raise it to such a high bar.

“I think I was very lucky to be around and fill the gap with Egg at the time. Not many places were giving equal weight on good coffee, good food and good service,” she says. “There were lots of specialty cafes that didn’t do a full restaurant menu and a lot of good restaurants that didn’t have specialty coffee. And there are still some gaps now which I tried to fill with Bird and Bitter.”

Wanting to create a good dining service is why Hauge entered the business. That’s a combination of great food, a pleasant environment, drinks, music and good services. So that hopefully when customers leave the restaurant, they can have a combination of sleepiness after a very good meal and the look of a happy surprise on their faces.

“And a little drunk,” she laughs.

Hauge has found a passion for creating new options that haven’t been seen before and presenting what is available to provide a full city experience.

“Here if you want to push yourself out in the world, you have to work really hard, but you can do anything you want,” she says. “All of us have so much ability to move faster and have a collective responsibility to raise the culture of Shanghai. And push it in whichever way we can.”

Graeme Kennedy / Ti Gong

Shanghai Supperclub's third anniversary event at Yuz Museum

Dave Tacon / Ti Gong

FEAST is a larger-scale event organized by Hauge in Shanghai.

However, Hauge also agrees that the fast development of the city lures people to push forward at a little unhealthy pace. So she’s not planning on opening more venues but focusing on the existing places and trying to create life balance.

“I haven’t cooked for myself for years, which is sad,” she says. “I often fantasize cooking for myself.”

She also wishes she could learn more Chinese.

“When customers ask a very specific question and I can’t understand, I feel like a failure, you know. And it’s not fair for them to feel awkward or embarrassed because they don’t speak my language,” says Hauge. “It’s a little undermining and soul-crushing for not being as articulate as one would like.”

Betty Richardson / Ti Gong

Bitter is Hauge's newly opened outlet on Wuyuan Road.

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