For those who love to talk about food as much as they love to cook and eat it, a cooking club can be a creative and enticing way to connect with other like-minded culinary fans or individuals who want to hone their food prep skills.
Here’s how to start a cooking club:
Theme. Choose a theme that can help your group focus on what to prepare for each meeting. As your group gets in the groove, you might switch up your theme each year. Side note…don’t make the theme too complicated, especially if you have novice cooks or you’ll risk chasing them off.
Ideas might include:
- Ethnic cooking
- Healthy cooking on a budget
- Meals that can be prepped in 30 minutes or less
- Vegetarian cooking
- Recipes from celebrity TV chefs, cookbook authors, bloggers or cooking magazines
- Pinterest recipes
- Seasonal/local ingredient sourced dishes
- Ingredient specific…Each month choose a specific ingredient that everyone includes in the dish they make
Group size. To build group cohesiveness, keep your cooking club to a manageable number, like, between six and 10 members. One reason people return to a group is they develop a sense of camaraderie as they get to know each other. Smaller numbers give members an opportunity to share stories, build trust and swap tips in a relaxed setting. It’s just harder to build that same sense of cohesiveness if numerous people come and go.
Plus, a smaller group is more likely to hold each other accountable for being there. When we know we’re expected somewhere and we’re looking forward to seeing the other members, we’re more inclined to make it work with our schedule.
Scheduling. Set up a Facebook group, GroupMe app, group text or an email chain to coordinate get-togethers. Choose a day of the week and time that generally works best for everyone. Decide how often your group will meet—usually once a month or every six weeks works best for many busy moms.
Making it work. Before each gathering, have your group members sign up for different categories like beverage, appetizer, soup/salad, main entree and dessert. Each friend brings their dish to the gathering along with recipe cards to hand out.
Everyone takes a turn explaining their dish, perhaps sharing what inspired them to make it, what changes they made to the original recipe, what the preparation was like and how they would score it. You might rank a meal based on the difficulty of gathering ingredients, issues during preparation, taste and kid-friendliness. Then everyone eats!
Use social media. Take photos during the gathering and post them to your group page. If you don’t want to hand out recipe cards, include links to each meal on your page. In between face-to-face meetings, share recipes and cooking ideas with each other.
Holiday tip. Host a Secret Santa exchange where everyone swaps an inexpensive cooking gadget that you each consider an indispensable part of your kitchen.
Focus on fun! Don’t worry if your meal is a disaster. That’s real life and your friends will understand! Besides, they might have some tips for making it work better the next time. Focus on the conversation and the opportunity to spend time with others who share your interests.
Do you have a cooking club? How do you make it work?