Starting your own Cooking Group is Boss!

Okay, so we all know that cooking and eating are two of the best things around.  Add some friends who feel the same way, a location to meet at with a roof and a place to cook, and Hey!  You’re most of the way there to having your very own cooking group.

Things On A Stick Gourmet Group!  Grilled stuffed tomatoes, lamb kabobs
Things On A Stick Gourmet Group! Grilled stuffed tomatoes, lamb kabobs, grilled tofu lettuce wraps.

One of the nice things about being a grown up is that sometimes you get to make your own rules (I haven’t been able to convince my student loan company to join me in this train of thought, but I’m going to keep working on them).  If you want to grab some friends and meet every Sunday for a weekly meal, do it!  If you only have time to meet once a month, okay!  Do you want to have a mystery meal night, where people bring what they want, willy-nilly?  Great.  I’m guessing you see what I’m trying to say here…I’m giving you permission to do whatever you want.  In regards to a cooking group, that is.

Here are some good guidelines, however:

  1. Pick friends that really care about cooking and making great food.  Just because Sandy is a great person to have at a party doesn’t mean she can boil water.
  2. Pick people who are going to be able to meet as often as you want so you don’t get too bound up in their scheduling.
  3. Make sure you have a good list of emails, phone numbers and addresses to get a hold of your group members.  Someone’s going to get lost on the way to your house, and it would be nice if they could reach you instead of driving around in circles while their masterpiece slowly falls apart.
  4. Decide the rules.  For example, here’s what we do in our Gourmet Group:
    • We meet once a month in a rotating circle of host houses
    • We choose a different theme (everything from “Foods that start with the letter P!” to “Foods that are Wrapped” – which is picked by the host ahead of time so we can all figure out how to make our courses work.  I’m not going to tell you how long it took me to decide on a gourmet dessert for Soup Night.
    • Every member is assigned a course (try to make sure the same person isn’t getting the same course each time!), but they can find their own recipe
    • We make an effort to find recipes that are more gourmet in nature, things that we wouldn’t normally make at home on a Wednesday.
    • The host always has the main course to make things easier for them.

These are just things that work for us, you should think of things that will be fun for you!

One of our hostesses, adding the final touches of fresh rosemary
Roasted Theme Gourmet Group…one of our hostesses adding the final touches of fresh rosemary

After it’s been awhile, decide if things are going the way you want and change them up if they aren’t.  You make your group as good as you want it to be 🙂

I know it can be hard thinking of themes all the time, so I decided to be really nice to you and make a list of some of the things we’ve done in the past!  I realize there should be about 60 of these, but in my own defense, we skipped some months (and I have really crap memory skills).  Each theme was applied to all of the courses of that night’s meal and we brought them all together to share what we came up with!

Ideas for your Cooking Group:

  1. Breakfast for Dinner
  2. Potato Night
  3. Recipes by Julia Childs
  4. Things on  Stick
  5. Things that are Roasted
  6. Nuts!
  7. Gourmet Comfort Foods
  8. Recipes by Rick Bayless
  9. Gourmet Weight Watchers
  10. Make it Wrapped or Rolled
  11. Vegetarian Night
  12. Alcohol Night (whiskey, beer, etc in food)
  13. Lemon Night
  14. Chocolate Night
  15. Southern US Fare (Deep South)
  16. Everything Apples
  17. Squash Night
  18. Recipes by Ina Garten
  19. Cuisine from the countries of China, India, Greece, Spain (each had their own night)
  20. Everything soup!
  21. Recipes by Jaime Oliver
  22. Raid the Farmer’s Market
  23. Cheese Night

Our group has been meeting for a long time, since about 2009, and I have to say it has been so nice to get together with the same people and eat fantastic food while we all catch up on what has been happening in our lives for the past month.  I hope that if you have people around you who like to cook, that you are able to make a group of your own!

What's Gourmet Group without libations?  Parkside Fizz and Lemoncello with sparkling wine
What’s Lemon Theme Gourmet Group without libations? Parkside Fizz and Lemoncello with sparkling wine
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