How To Start A Cooking Club

This is a guest post from Krissy, author of the food blog, Make It Naked, where she shares her love for natural, whole foods through amazing recipes and entertaining stories!

When Nick asked if I would guest blog it was kind of like someone asking me if I’d like to trade-in my Honda for a spin in their Lamborghini. YES! Without a doubt, YES! So to say I am honored and excited is very much an understatement.

(Note from Nick: That’s right people. Macheesmo is the sports car of food blogs. Sports car or midlife crisis…)

More than likely you frequent Macheesmo because you enjoy fantastic food and a good laugh. Maybe, like me, you’ve bookmarked a few (hundred) recipes you want to try. Well I’m here to tell you how you can finally get to try all of these recipes without living in your kitchen for the rest of your life and while having a really great time with your friends. Sounds too good to be true? It’s not.

When I moved to Northern Virginia, I really didn’t know many people, so when a friend from college invited me to be a part of a cooking club that was starting up, I was all in. At the time, I didn’t know exactly what a cooking club was, but six years and 75 “meetings” later, we’ve tasted A LOT of recipes, learned a lot about cooking and have become the best of friends.

So, what is this cooking club and how do you start one?

All you need to get started are a few interested cooks. In this post, I’ll outline how we run our club. But remember, these are just to guide you and get you started. As you grow as a group, you’ll figure out what works best for you.

Grab some friends and get cooking!

1. Get Your Members.
Our group is 8 strong (a smaller group would work too, but I don’t suggest any more than 9). Ask a few friends who like to cook, or who want to start cooking, and then ask them to invite a friend and so on. Build a committed, friendly group. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it “fills up”.

2. Select a Host.
If you’re starting it, it’s probably a good idea to host the first one. Then rotate each month until everyone gets a chance to host. The host sets the menu by choosing all the recipes, so everyone will want to host. We have a rolling list to keep track of who is up next.

3. Set a Date.
The host sends out a group email with suggested dates. While it can be difficult, make sure to pick a date that works for everyone. Weeknights usually work well for us, but we have had an occasional cooking club brunch on the weekend.

4. Choose the Menu
The host creates the entire menu. This is your chance to get creative and try out all those recipes you’ve had marked for years, or that you’ve been too scared to make yourself. The menu normally includes an appetizer or two, a main dish, a vegetable, a starch, another side, dessert and sometimes even a cocktail recipe. There’s often a theme or common ingredient. For example, we’ve done things like Italian, Mexican, Superfoods, Chocolate, etc. This last month, I hosted a “Happy Moo Year” cooking club featuring different cheeses in each recipe.

Check out our last menu here! (Some of the recipes were even Macheesmo recipes!)

5. Assign the Dishes
The host then emails out the menu assigning each member a dish to make. The host is always assigned the main dish. Try to be considerate and get the menu out a couple weeks early to leave everyone time to read over their recipe, shop for ingredients and make their dish. In our club we give the host the next month off, meaning they are not assigned a dish the month after they host.

6. Meet and Eat!
On the set date, everyone meets at the host’s house with their prepared dish and sits down to a wonderful meal. We usually end up talking about what we think of each dish. Would we make it again? How would we change it? Was it hard to make? Is it quick? Ok, so in reality, the actual “meeting” is more of an eating club, but who wouldn’t join an eating club?

It’s not only great fun but it’s really an awesome way to get in the kitchen and try things that might be out of your cooking comfort zone. And where else can you design an entire menu, get your friends to cook it and then bring it to your house for you to enjoy?

What are you waiting for? Call some friends and get cooking!

 

Have questions? Ask it in the comments!

35 comments on “How To Start A Cooking Club

  1. We meet once a month. It seems to work best for our group. It's always a great time.

  2. Great idea! I belong to a cooking club that has been going for about 7 years! anyone can "join" that is a friend. We have about 25 people on our list, naturally, not everyone makes it each time. We choose a them (lemon, Italian, raw foods, holiday foods, etc) and then everyone brings a dish that goes with that theme. We use facebook or evite to share what we are bringing ahead of time, so there aren't duplicates. We also bring the recipes to share with each other, and lots of tupperware and baggies for leftovers. We choose as a group on the theme, and rotate houses, parks, and other cool venues. We love it!

  3. Great idea! I never even thought of that. I'm from Northern Virginia, too (yay!) and I think a lot of my friends would be interested in starting one. Thanks!!

  4. Love this idea! Thanks for the step by step info! So funny about the bookmarking hundreds of recipes. Glad I'm not alone. : )

  5. P.S. Just checked out Krissy's blog and think it's awesome! I'll be checking in at Make It Naked often.

  6. What a lovely idea! We're having a pot luck next Sunday. Maybe I should rename it to our cooking club and send people recipes that I wanna try out ;)

  7. I knew college students and young professionals who did this 2 or 3 times a week. I don't know that they had such an extensive menu though. It saved a lot of money, was social, and they didn't have to eat out.

  8. Have you had to deal with any food allergies (gluten comes to mind) and if so, how'd you handle it?

    1. Yes we've had vegetarians, non red meat eaters, non fish eaters, and we currently have 2 mango allergies (i know that's odd, right?). There's usually so much food that everyone finds something they enjoy. When making the menu we're conscious of allergies and try to work around them in the majority of the dishes.

    2. I was one of those vegetarians lucky enough to be in cooking club with Krissy. The menus were large and diverse enough that I left feeling happy, lucky, and FULL.

  9. I need to do this! I've been having random potluck nights with a few friends and we always talk about how we should do it more often but it tends to not happen. I think I need to organize it more. Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Thanks for sharing–I am going to start one of these with my friends. Any chance you have a link to a list of your past recipes used for each meal? It would be a good place to start the meal planning…

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Molly! Under number 4 above is a sample menu you can start with but if you mean a link with ALL the recipes we've ever used, I have emails with the menus but they are not located under one link. Please contact me over at makeitnaked.wordpress.com if you'd like to see some of our other menus and I can send some to you. I'd be happy to share. We've had probably close to 80 cooking club meetings over 6 years there are a ton of recipes.

  11. My friends and I had so much fun at our first cooking club. We are already looking forward to next month. Thanks again for the idea!

  12. This sounds like a WONDERFUL, FUN idea. We live in as close knit condo neighborhood, and I THINK we would have a lot of interested neighbors! Thanks for sharing!
    Pam

  13. I’m in Fredericksburg, VA. I’m trying to use the cooking club as also a way to meet folks with whom I have something in common. My home just is not presentable right now. I have thought about starting off the club by seeing who would like to cook an interesting meal for the homeless folks in respite care, usually 10 or fewer people. Does anyone have any other ideas of how to start it off outside of my home. I want to cook. I would prefer to cook together.

  14. I want to start cooking club but I do not know any processing and police. for example, should I take kitchen certificate and cook certificate. what will I do for cooking club police? Thank you so much for you share knowledge.

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