June 15, 2011

The Club.

I’m part of a book club. Granted, I haven’t been in attendance at a “meeting” in quite some time, because my work schedule changed, and I’ve gone back to working Friday evening, which is the night of book club. But I always enjoyed myself. Even just the three or four times I was able to get together with everyone, it was always something I looked forward to doing, especially when I got to host it! I noticed that although I did enjoy the few books I read, the best part about book club was seeing what everyone was going to have to prepared for the evening’s meal. The differences in everyone’s set up, from appetizers and beer, to a four-course dinner and wine. It was always interesting to see all the different ways that people choose to entertain.

This sort of thing got me thinking... I love to cook, and I love to host - have people over to my house, and watch them enjoy themselves. I think it’s the top reason I want -- and most restaurateurs want -- to own their own restaurant; they enjoy making people happy and watching people enjoy themselves. While flipping through channels recently, I came across Rocco DiSpirito’s new show, “Rocco’s Dinner Party” on Bravo (in which Rocco seems arrogant and pretentious the whole time), and it gave me the idea to start my own dinner club.

Sure, it’s easy enough to invite some friends over and make a dip and open a bag of chips. However, it’s quite another to have the table set properly, choose very specific aperitifs to compliment your meal, decide on a theme, such as Italian, Mexican, Asian-Fusion, American, etc., and then select desserts to finish off your evening.

Instead of talking about the recent book you’ve read, everyone can discuss the food... how it tastes, how it could be better, what else might go well with it, what are some good wine pairings to go with the meal. The discussion can be based around food. And for everyone that enjoys the occasional “chef-testant” reality television competition -- you can now put yourself in the judge’s shoes! You can discuss the exact same things that Gordon Ramsey, or Padma Lakshmi are discussing. Everyone will feel like a celebrity when they are through. (Except maybe the person who has to do the cleaning!)

Dinner Clubs can be used to be adventurous and experimental with different cuisines. The following are a few pointers on how to start your own Dinner Club:

  • Set a date and time frame of your Dinner Club. Maybe you will have it every month. Maybe every two months. Maybe it will be the second Saturday of every month. Decide on the day of the week and time as well and make sure it works for everyone. 
  • Decide how your menu will be planned out. Will the host decide what the whole meal will be, or will you get together beforehand so everyone can make suggestions? 
  • Decide how you will execute the meal. Some clubs have the host do all the cooking, from the appetizer to the dessert. Other clubs have everyone bring one part of the meal (usually with the host being responsible for the main course). Also, determine how many courses there will be. 
  • Determine if budget is going to be a factor. If the host for June is going to make Lobster Tail, it would be unfair if the host for July is going to make Spaghetti and Meatballs. If this is not an issue among your dinner club, then don’t worry about it! 
  • Treat Yourselves. After everyone in the club has had their chance to host, treat yourselves to a night out to a restaurant of your choice. Discuss if you like how things are going, or if any changes need to be made. Decide if you would like to add anyone to the club, change or add any themes, or plan and schedule the next set of dates. 
  • Don’t forget to make it nice! Dinner Club should be a time for enjoying yourself and indulging yourself. Be sure to dress nicely, light candles, play music, decorate, etc. 

Be sure to leave comments for any other suggestions or ideas you may have!

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