Creating a Cooking/Supper Club
Hi Fellow Chowhounders,
My sister and I are in the process of starting up a Supper Club. I have tried doing some research online, and have found very little information on the subject. I did find a blurb in the back on Bon Appetit and a few, very short online articles.
If any of you are in an active Supper Club, I would love it if you would share some of your experiences with me. I am interested in everything, from the mechanics to the menus.
A question about your proposed Supper Club .................. is this a quiet, underground private club where people pay to eat the food you select and cook or is it to be a rotating dinner party with the same people attending all the events and providing food from provided recipes for the set menu?
Good question. I was referring to the type of club where people come together to cook, share recipes, and yes, eat dinner together. We just had our inaugural meeting last night and we have settled on meeting once every other month, rotating houses, rotating courses, and setting aside one meeting every six months to plan the themes for the following six months. So far we have 7 or 8 members. We are hoping to cap our club at 10 members.
Our first "supper" will be pulled from the pages of Small Bites, Big Nights (the Chef from Table 8 in L.A. We will be making burrata salad, skirt steak skewers, green garbanzo bean crostini, grilled endive and a creamsicle cocktail. I will report back again as we progress. Meanwhile, I am hoping to learn more about other people's experiences. Please chime in with your thoughts!
Years ago I belonged to one of these. The way our group worked was that the host would plan the menu, research recipes and distribute the different courses to the members. The host would actually cook nothing, but provide the space, the beverages and do all the cleanup. Cleanup was minimal since there hadn't been any cooking. Courses and hosting would rotate among the members - in the end no one ever had to host more than once a year.
It worked very well. As a host, you had an opportunity to concentrate on things like ambiance and research. As a cook, you were provided with a recipe that you may never have chosen to make on your own - sometimes a challenge, sometimes not. Once I was assigned some very complicated pate en croute which just about killed me to make but it was a great learning experience to actually do it.
A few friends have lately been talking about starting this kind of thing up again. It was fun and interesting.
I was in a cooking club a year or so ago. It was really casual (maybe too casual for its own good). The host (or the group) would pick a theme for the meal. It was actually more like a themed potluck hosted by a different person each month. Most of the cooking was done at each person's home and they brought the prepared dish to the host's house. There was also no planned menu and people wouldn't really announce what they were bringing ahead of time...which sometimes resulted in things like a brunch meeting with 4 people out of 8 bringing muffins. THere would also be people who obviously invested a lot of effort and others who just kind of got by. We'd also often end up with a rather uneven meal.
Based on my experience with that group I think things would work better (for this kind of group where not everyone has room to have 6+ people cooking in their kitchen) :
- ahead of time get everyone's food allergies & dietary requirements out in the open(vegetarian, halaal/kosher, gluten-freee, nut allergy etc)...and decide how you are going to handle it..ex. across the board rule of "sue is vegitarian so ALL of our dishes must be" vs. "about 50%+ of dishes at a meal should be veg-friendly
- the group as a whole or the host should pick a menu/dish selection options for each meeting for people to pick from or have the host approve of a selection (ex. I don't like any of those French country picnic options you gave but I have this great recipe for an onion tart, would it be okay if I made that?). This will help make sure your menu is well-covered (avoid the too-many-muffins scenario)
- ask that people commit to their final dish at least about a week before the meal
dkennedy, Sounds like what you are doing is inline with the suggestions I've made above.