You’ve heard of book clubs. But have you heard of cookbook clubs? Neither had Jacqueline Willis, until blogger Kate Arends mentioned her own on her site, and eventually recorded an episode of her podcast explaining how she and her friends made it work. Willis was intrigued.
“Jacqueline wanted to create the club for a few months before it actually commenced,” says club member Carrie Coleman. “She wanted to share her love of cooking and food with people who cared as much as she did.”
Here’s how it works: There’s a different host each month, and the host chooses the book (“This could be one from their personal collection that they have wanted to cook a full meal from, or one they have heard is popular,” says Coleman). The host is responsible for the main course and a cocktail, while the others take on appetizers, sides, and dessert. Each member of the club prepares as much of their portion of the meal at home as possible, then finishes cooking or assembling the dish at the host’s house.
It always amounts to a full meal, and the group tries to source ingredients locally when possible. (Coleman notes that almost all of the meat in their dishes has come from JM Stock Provisions.)
In the Boeuf, as they call themselves, has six members—Reggie Leonard, Noah Rosner, Heather Flor, and Ashton Wirt, plus Willis and Coleman. Only one of them, Coleman, has attended culinary school. “Otherwise we all just love cooking!” she says.
The main goal of the club, Coleman says, is to learn more about food, cooking techniques, and flavor pairings. But it’s also about community.
“We have a range of ages and walks of life represented in our club, which leads to a variety of conversation topics,” Coleman says. “Creating new friendships in an intentional way is a huge bonus.”
On the shelf
Jacqueline’s pick: Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child
The dish: Artichokes with hollandaise
“I had been wanting to try this dish for years so I had to include it in my menu. Heather executed the dish perfectly and it was everything I hoped it would be.”
Reggie’s pick: Season by Nik Sharma
The dish: Shaved Brussels sprouts
“I never knew that Brussels sprouts could be fluffy. The texture, the flavor—approaching a common ingredient in a fresh way can completely change your experience.”
Heather’s pick: Le Creuset Cookbook by David Rathgeber and Elisa Vergne
The dish: Lentil, walnut, and whipped goat cheese salad
“It was interesting and balanced, and really surprised me.”
Carrie’s pick: True Tuscan by Cesare Casella
The dish: Stuffed cabbage
“Ashton added a bit of lavender to it and it made it sing.”