small change toward a rich life

Supper club: an alternative to potlucks and dinner parties

This entry started out as a comment to Kris’ potluck post on Get Rich Slowly, but it soon became too long for a mere comment, so I moved it over here.

In addition to being frugal-minded, I’m also an unabashed foodie. When I was lucky enough to have three friends nearby who also liked to cook, I enjoyed a sort of cross between a potluck and a dinner party that we called a ‘supper club.’ It involves a lot less ‘luck’ and allows for more coordinated and ambitious meals, but maintains a similar thriftiness and community spirit. Here’s how it worked:

The four of us agreed to meet on the same night each week for dinner. But unlike a dinner party, where the host does all the cooking solo and in advance, for the supper club everyone arrives prior to the start of preparation, and the cooking itself is a social event.

There are two rotating positions: ‘chef’ and ‘sous chef’. The chef hosts the dinner, plans the menu (often around a particular cuisine), and purchases all ingredients in advance. The sous chef is on call in the kitchen for whatever needs doing at the chef’s instruction — ‘chop these’ or ‘stir that’.

So two people chat over food prep in the kitchen, while the other two relax with a drink in the living room — or converse with the chef as a group if space and attention allows. (Some people can carry on unrelated conversations while cooking; others can’t. Me, it depends upon how many things I have going at once.) After dinner, the chef and sous chef relax and talk while the others clear up the dishes.

The supper club works best, I think, with four, five, or six people. More than six and it starts to get unwieldy; fewer than four and the ratio of exertion to relaxation climbs too high. One tip: if couples are involved, be sure to mix it up — don’t let your spouse sous-chef for you in your own kitchen.

And of course this is really an idea for the foodie set — if you’re wanting to include people who don’t know how to make toast, then a potluck provides more diverse options. But if you have a few friends who love to go out for expensive restaurant meals, this might be a great alternative: you can do ‘Thai night’ or ‘steak night’ or whatever, and have a restaurant-quality meal at home. You never have to cook alone — you have a guaranteed helper and as much conversation as you want. And someone else always cleans up!

Now that I’ve been reminded of this, I’m thinking about whether I know people now who would enjoy this. Because it was great, and I’d love to start one up again. Hmmm …

(Photo by Zeetz Jones.)


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  1. Emilie says

    Hi! This is completely not related to your blog, but I was wondering if you would be able to send me the page on how To toilet train your cat? I can only get half the page, don’t know if it is because I have a stupid ipad or whether I just stuff up. Thank you, and sorry for barging in like this ;)

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