Hosting a Dinner Party is Easier with Friends (aka You Can Create a Cooking Club)
The first rule of our Dinner Club is: you do not talk about Dinner Club. Sorry, just kidding. Anytime I mention being in a cooking club, people ask questions.
A decade or so ago, a friend was talking about her cooking club and I thought it sounded so fun, I asked about a million questions. How does it work? Who picks the recipes? Who hosts? I guess I asked enough questions that this friend remembered my interest when one of the club members moved out of town and there was an open spot. My husband and I were asked to join and we’ve been cooking together for a lot of meals. Along with my original friend, now we have six other cooking buddies.
So here’s the scoop on how the cooking club I’m in works. We meet about every two or three months. The host picks the theme, menu and creates the entrée. The rest of us receive an email about the other courses available to make and then we all claim courses until everyone has an assignment. Everyone brings drinks to accompany the menu or their course.
Sometimes we create the meal out of a cookbook, using all the recipes from one source. Sometimes we freestyle, just assigning a certain type of dish—but the creator gets to find the recipe. Other times, I do something a little goofball, like the Oscar Night dinner (every course had something to do with the movies nominated that year) or the Gilligan’s Island dinner (yes, you had to dress as your favorite Gilligan’s Island character and of course, I was Ginger). And almost always, I turn memories of a great vacation into a menu I want to share with others.
“Gourmet Club is a night I always look forward to!”
We all agree that no matter what we have made: the food is good, the company is good, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming and we pay less than a restaurant meal out—often with restaurant quality meals. Gourmet Club is a night I always look forward to!
Here just a sprinkling of the dinner menus we’ve created over the years in our cooking club:
Searching for Italy – see post, based on Stanley Tucci’s CNN show
Hawaiian (inspired by Cook Real Hawaii – Sheldon Simeon cookbook)(bottom right photo - Chocolate Coconut Pie)
Big Night – yes, I made the Timpano (top left photo) see recipe at NY Times
Italian Winter Feast, including wild boar
Gilligan’s Island tropical
Presidential Inauguration dinner (many many years ago when presidents were still fun to celebrate)
Japanese (homemade ramen - bottom middle photo)
Inspired by a Summer Trip to Michigan
Holiday Cocktail Party (hors d’oeuvres and cocktails)
Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chocolate Glazed Olive Oil Cake with Candied Fruit - bottom left photo)
Derby de Mayo (a wild combo of Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo inspirations)
Southern Revival BBQ
Caribbean (inspired by Ziggy Marley and Family cookbook)
Colors of Spring (top right photo - Pea Soup with Micro Greens)
When as the host you are making the entrée and maybe a welcome cocktail…you have time to clean the house and get everything set up. With others taking the lift of the other courses, you will find this is a fun and relaxing way to share the work.
Let me know in the comments what themes and ideas your cooking groups have come up with!