Cooking clubs

This year, my eternally-under-renovation kitchen has finally gotten to the point where I can comfortably have friends over for dinner.  I can usually squeeze them in between family obligations about once a month, and they are truly one of my great joys.

Our family is lucky enough to have a number of close friends who are terrific cooks and adventurous eaters, so I've never felt a need to change this arrangement.  But I understand that many cooks enjoy setting up something more formally collaborative - hence, the "cooking club".  Now, we're not talking about a "supper club," which I understand to be something more on the order of an underground restaurant.

No, the "cooking club" seems to be more of an informal affair - a casual gathering of friends who love to cook and experiment with new cuisines and cookbooks. Increasingly, we're seeing collaborative cookbooks coming out of these ventures.  And although, as a reviewer, I often feel the books would benefit from a more aggressive editing hand, I also think they have a contagious verve, a sense of freewheeeling inspiration.

Have you ever been part of a cooking club, or wanted to join one or set one up?  I'd love to hear about your experiences!

7 Comments

  • TessParson  on  1/21/2014 at 12:13 PM

    I would love nothing more than to be in a cooking club - but out here where I live, there doesn't seem to be enough people willing to organize such a thing. Any clues on how to search for nearby cooking clubs would be welcomed!

  • boardingace  on  1/22/2014 at 8:36 AM

    I don't have enough foodie friends to start one, so I just invite them over for dinner... My parents do something similar to what you described, though. They call it a "dinner club" and they rotate having each other over for dinner. (One couple has a tiny living space so they go to a restaurant on that rotation, where they supply the wine.) However, there is no pretense of trying new recipes or cookbooks, just having each other over for a nice dinner.

  • Queezle_Sister  on  1/22/2014 at 1:38 PM

    Two years ago, I organized my group of five girlfriends to start a cooking club centered around cookbooks. No, not all my friends are/were foodies, but they are willing to do some cooking, and we all enjoy socializing. Each month, one person hosts the party, selects the cookbook, and assigns courses. We then gather, share our dishes, and discuss everything under the sun, including the cookbook and individual dishes. I bet you can start one without foodie friends, nobody in my group criticizes the cook - we blame failures on the cookbook!

  • adrienneyoung  on  1/22/2014 at 3:30 PM

    I have -- and still am. It's been quite wonderful as a way to get to know my neighbours. Sometimes the food is amazing, sometimes it's just an interesting experiment, but the dinners are always terrific fun.

  • boardingace  on  1/29/2014 at 11:36 PM

    @ Queezle_Sister: That is a great idea! Your group sounds really kind and fun. I will give this some thought!

  • jnetlw  on  2/23/2014 at 3:29 PM

    Our group formed out of a food writing book club at our local cookbook shop - the Book Larder in Seattle. All of us were essentially strangers and our members are in each age range from 20-60s. We organize it on a facebook page rotating houses and meeting every other month to cook. We like each other's company so much that we organize an outing (restaurant or food related activity) for the opposite months. Originally, we were looking at a seasonal approach, but now we are branching out to differing cuisines. And a few months we highlighted authors - Nigel Slater, Mollie Katzen. It's been great to find a community of like minded, food obsessed friends.

  • DKennedy  on  2/24/2014 at 5:55 PM

    I am in L.A. and for a time we had a cooking club but it burned out after 2 years. I miss it and would love to find my want into another one, but this time with people who are equally obsessed with cooking, cookbooks and food in general. If any of you are in L.A. and like minded, we should find a way to make this happen.

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