Alissa Timoshkina: the woman match-making food and film

***Rachel Khoo would like to thank all the inspiring people who helped make the Khoollect studio a hive of creativity. Although the Khoollect studio’s doors have now closed, you can keep up with Rachel’s newest adventures on and on Rachel’s Instagram and Facebook pages – and, continue to enjoy the Khoollect website’s stories and recipes, which will remain available.***

Sure, many of us are familiar with the comfort that comes from curling up on the couch to watch a great film accompanied by a glass of red and a takeaway pizza — but, few people can say they’ve experienced the delight of attending an event where fine films are seamlessly matched with even finer foods in a beautifully decorated setting. That’s where Alissa Timoshkina comes in. Here, the innovative foodie explains how a little lightbulb moment saw her become the founder of KinoVino — a London-based supper club with a difference.

What exactly is a cinema-dining club, and what is KinoVino all about? 

A cinema-dinning club is an event that offers a perfect marriage of cinema viewing and conceptual dining under one roof. At KinoVino you get the chance to watch a wide range of films, from all over the world, and enjoy beautiful sit-down dinners. For each edition, I partner up with a chef to devise a unique menu inspired by a chosen film.

To me, the idea of a shared journey into the world of cinema and food is really at the heart of KinoVino. There is something magical about a group of people coming together to share a meal and also their emotions as they view a film together. KinoVino emerged naturally out of my love for hosting dinner parties and my love and knowledge of cinema (I have a PhD in film history). But that lightbulb moment really happened last Christmas during my visit to Cape Town, when my boyfriend and I were enjoying a wine tasting and thought ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting to pair wine with films!?’. The more I thought about it the more I felt drawn to curate not just a wine tasting but an entire dinner around a film.

What inspires your menus and events? How do you select films to pair with food choices?

Once the concept of KinoVino was formed I found it really easy to come up with food-film pairings and immediately jotted down at least ten variations. At times, my choice is guided by the love of a particular cuisine, at others it’s a film with a meaningful food theme or beautiful food scene that inspires me. I have also worked in collaboration with the chefs, where we brainstorm to devise a concept together. It has been quite amazing to be approached by excellent chefs for a KinoVino collaboration.

How often do you host events, and where are they held?

KinoVino does not yet have a systematic schedule but, roughly speaking, I host an event once a month. I’m currently developing a new and very exciting programme, testing out a different model — to run the same event over several days, rather than just having a one-off gathering. I’m also looking at doing two different events each month. I’ve been really lucky with the response and demand so I’ve also started hosting private KinoVino events for birthday parties, hen nights and other special occasions. Most of my events have been held in a really lovely space in Lower Clapton Road in London, called Palm2. The venue is family-run, and it’s such a pleasure to work with them. But I’ve also done one event in Brighton, as a collaboration with a friend’s cafe, and an upcoming event will be held at Calvert 22, a gallery in Shoreditch, East London. So I’m always keen to try out new spaces and move around (and outside) London.

What’s been one of the best experiences you’ve had since the launch of KinoVino?

It’s really been an amazing year for KinoVino, and with each event I feel like I establish a new record (even if a small personal one). If I were to highlight some, it would definitely be a TimeOut article, which named KinoVino as one of the ‘ten coolest supper clubs in London’. And also the special moment of stepping into the kitchen with some of the most amazing chefs to prepare a KinoVino meal. It’s an incredible learning experience and also a wonderful way to forge new friendships. I just love that moment at the end of the service when we give each other a big hug, pour a glass of wine and enjoy that special feeling of having just created a beautiful night for our guests.

What challenges have you faced in organising these events?

Selling tickets is probably the biggest challenge. All of the editions so far have sold out, so I can’t complain, but it does take a lot of work to make this happen. And despite a good track record, I constantly face the doubt of whether the event will sell or not. But really I just need to get on with it and not waste time worrying.

What’s the feedback been like from attendees?

It’s been really incredible how well people have responded to KinoVino. At first I thought no one apart from my friends would show up, but not only do lots of new people come to each event, I also have some regulars now. I’ve recently asked people to write a brief review of their KinoVino experience, and the responses were so wonderful, I really couldn’t have wished for anything better. Of course, there is an unhappy customer here and there, but that’s the reality of hosting these kinds of events.

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Alissa Timoshkina

Want to know more?

You can visit the KinoVino website to find out what’s coming up, and follow Alissa’s food and film adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.