I have wanted to start a cooking club for some time now, but I’ve never really done anything about it. “Wine@MSN.com” (whatever) has an article about the phenomenon, and their findings on what makes for a successful coterie of cuisine. Here’s their list:
Choose members carefully. Successful cooking groups recommend six to 12 people per club, be it friends, co-workers, couples, singles or a heady mix of all. The only prerequisites are culinary enthusiasm and regular participation (although extra points are given for dishwasher ownership). Pick a consistent time. For most, once a month is frequent enough to be regular without feeling like a chore. Sundays often work best for nine-to-fivers because it interferes less with other weekend plans. Plan meetings around a theme. Themes such as sexy Spanish foods or Mardi Gras are festive, get members excited to cook and ensure that the dishes will work together. Plan menus and courses ahead of time, a lesson the Cooking Club learned after their first session yielded what Singer calls a “catastrophic menu” of pumpkin bisque, couscous and olive ravioli. From then on, a groupwide e-mail was sent to coordinate menu options and avoid future fusion confusion. Meet at the entree-maker’s home. This is purely a matter of convenience — lugging a 10-pound roast around is just no fun. Prepare assigned dishes in advance. Every member should contribute one dish; however, eight people cooking eight different dishes in one kitchen is a recipe for disaster. Have members do everything but last-minute assembly at home. Cooking independently will help develop confidence and, after all, it’s enjoying the results en masse that’s important. Celebrate successes and chalk up blunders to experience. Remember, the object is to have fun — make that your group’s mantra. Tempers can boil over in the kitchen and egos can bruise like an overripe peach. Mutual regard and support is what will keep your club cooking month after month.
Friends? Romans? Countrymen? Interested in giving it a go?