View Full Version : Cook together or bring a dish?
05-16-2006, 06:59 PM
What are your experiences with cooking together? Does it work well, or is everyone tripping over each other in the kitchen?
If you've been doing it this way, what are your tips? Would you recommend it to a new group?
05-17-2006, 04:38 PM
I think it depends on the size of your kitchen and your menu. We usually bring prepared food...but finish the dish if needed at the house. We have also had one or two dishes (sushi, latkes, rugelach) together.
05-17-2006, 04:40 PM
IMO too many cooks in the kitchen can make it quite hectic! I prefer for everyone to bring their own dish that they have prepared at home.
05-19-2006, 05:46 PM
I have been in two clubs, and we've done it both ways.
The first group I was in, the host planned the menu and bought all the stuff. We got together and cooked it all, and at the end of the night pitched in money to cover the cost of food. It was really fun to experience the cooking together, pick up new tips from cooks that are better than you are, and try cooking something that maybe you wouldn't pick for yourself. The downside was that you've got a 5 course meal to cook in one kitchen (personally I only had one oven and very little counter space so that was tough) and the other thing was that it TOOK FOREVER. We'd start at about 6pm, and end up eating the main course sometime around 9. We'd easily be there until 11pm, and this was on a weeknight.
The group I'm in now, the host picks a theme. We all sign up to bring a particular course that fits in with that theme. Everything is cooked ahead of time. We then get together, eat and gab. This makes for a much more sociable group, which is fun, and it doesn't run so late into the evening. On the downside, because we're not cooking together and we're gabbing instead, we don't talk much about the food, other than "wow, this tastes good!" We hardly ever end up swapping the recipes or talking about how to cook them. The other downside is that I go to the cooking club straight from work, so whatever I sign up for has to be able to last in the work fridge all day. It can't really be anything that needs to be served up fresh or that can't be reheated. It really limits my choices in picking a dish to bring.
Both groups worked for me and we had fun with. But I think it's telling that the first group lasted a year before it petered out (meeting monthly) and this second group lives on after more than 2 years.
Really, consensus wins. If not everyone buys into it, it will be hard to retain your club members.
05-21-2006, 12:54 PM
Thank you! This is great advice. We're going to change our plan accordingly and let the group decide.
05-21-2006, 07:47 PM
Our group's been together 6 years. We only cooked together once. It was VERY hectic, and really, none of us have a kitchen big enough to accomodate 5 or 6 people all cooking at once.
That said, our supper club is centered only around Cooking Light recipes, we don't do themes, we choose recipes from the current issue. Since we all have the magazine, and everyone has all the recipes, we don't have to worry about getting copies of anything to anyone, everyone has usually already noticed all the dishes that were made in the magazine when they went through their own issues, and we do sometimes ask each other about a particular technique or difficulty in making the dish, or about any difficulty in finding the ingredients, etc.
There's still the element of surprise, people always choose something I would never choose to try normally (and vice-versa), we do try to make the meal balanced (if not coordinated) - ie one soup, one salad, one entree, one or two sides, one or two desserts, etc. We don't really care if the dishes "go" together or not. Somehow everything always seems fine together anyway, so that's not been an issue for us.
I will admit that the majority of our conversation is not about cooking though, particularly after 6 years of meetings. We know each other pretty well and the conversation usually veers off onto just about any topic imaginable! :D
05-22-2006, 10:45 AM
Grace, we've found similar symbiosis on our dishes, too. Despite having a theme, depending on what the theme is, dishes brought can be wildly different. Just last month our theme was "foods that begin with C". Good grief!
But everything everyone brought just seemed "right" together. It's weird how that happens. Or maybe it's just because it's all individually good food, and you're eating it with good people.
05-24-2006, 04:29 PM
Once in awhile we have a barbecue and therefore cook at the hosts' house, but in our group generally we all bring a dish. The hosts do nothing but buy the beverages, to keep things low-stress for them, as they're probably scurrying to clean the house!
Also, our group aims for a theme but sometimes misses. Also, we assign very generically: "You do the dessert, I'll bring a side, you can bring the protein," sort of thing. I think we all enjoy the suprise of not really knowing what's on the menu.
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