Nikola

The Benefits of Cooking Groups

In Your Food, Your Guest Writers on October 4, 2010 at 8:21 AM

Image Credit Michaela Kobyakov

 

There’s almost nothing bad that one can really say about cooking groups. Defined for the sake of this article as groups in which likeminded people gather in a single place, cook large quantities of food, and reconvene to do the same thing weekly or monthly, a cooking group provides a number of opportunities: it gives one a chance to meet new people, discover foods and ingredients that one otherwise might not have come across, and come away with leftovers for less than it would cost to eat out or cook for one.  

Cooking clubs may specify a type of food or impose a dietary restriction to attract a specific crowd; for example, a number of cooking clubs exist to produce vegan or vegetarian meals. In doing so, they help people meet others in their community who may have similar social or political interests and bring together a group that may, depending on the surrounding area, be otherwise unserved by the restaurants around them. Others may focus on a style, or each week suggest a guideline to produce variety; one, for example, may emphasize Italian cooking one week, then produce Korean or Indian food the next. In doing so, attendants are forced both to expand their repertoire and get to learn new things to make when cooking outside of the cooking club. 

Some members may have connections of some kind, which can then translate into better deals and better meals for everyone. If a club has an attendant who, for example, butchers meat, that person may be able to provide cuts at a discount as well as in bulk, then share their expertise when that meat is prepared, served, and enjoyed. If a particularly experienced baker participates in one, they can show off the ways in which they prepare certain goods in order to teach other aspiring bakers. Amateur (or professional) beer brewers, winemakers, and distillers can supply their wares as well, adding another element to a cooking club. 

Cooking clubs often also cook enough to leave everyone with leftovers. This is an obvious convenience, as one’s labors are rewarded not just once, but several times throughout the week. Better yet, some produce difficult to make condiments, sauces, reductions, and garnishes, many of which either require costly ingredients or are, for various reasons, prohibitive to make at home in small quantities. By making them for a cooking club, you can get the experience without having a mountain of something that can only last a few days, ensuring that all of it will be used before it turns, expires, or otherwise becomes inedible. 

Organizing and finding a cooking club can be easy. Groups often promote them on social networking sites, friends (and friends of friends) likely know someone involved with one, and co-ops, local grocery stores, and area coffee shops may all help locate cooking clubs. If there are none, start one: by merely talking to your friends, gauging interest, finding a big enough kitchen, and hitting up farmers’ markets and bulk foods aisles, you’ll be well on your way. 

Andrew Hall is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on online schools for Guide to Online Schools.

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