Cooking clubs share the culinary love | Nandell Palmer

We’ve all gone to our favorite restaurants and dreamed of recreating those tasty dishes nipping away at our palates.

Have you ever thought about making beef bourguignon or shrimp etouffee? Do you have a hard time resisting the Food Network? You are an ideal candidate for a cooking club if you can identify with these questions.

Last Friday, my wife and I were guests at a posh dinner party in Federal Way, hosted by an adorable family at their lovely home.

Recent students from the East India Grill cooking class taught by Kabal Gill and son Pamma cooked up a succulent Indian fare. Gill, the proud teacher, was on hand to give a thumbs up to his seasoned gourmands.

The festive evening indulged epicures in hearty conversations about food and culture, leaving everyone in high spirits.

What would famed cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead and the doyenne of TV cooking show Julia Child say?

I was quite baffled to learn that there are a number of cooking clubs in Federal Way. These people meet monthly at each other’s homes, hosting grand dinner parties around a particular theme.

Sometimes a letter from the alphabet is drawn and people prepare recipes beginning with that letter. Other times, a country is chosen and members collectively make dishes from the various regions.

Southern night, movie themed dinners and green dinners are but a few themes that cooking clubs explore.

Most members of a cooking club see it as an informal outlet where friends gather and cook mouthwatering meals. Sometimes those dishes can be complex, demanding expertise to perfect multi-ingredient treats.

But to the faint at heart who dare not venture into sharing a food creation publicly, there is hope.

Whichever way you choose, the high point for this gathering is that friends come together, marrying flavors and passion with good eats. In the end, they all have a whale of a time.

Some of the things you should consider when starting a cooking club are location, size of the crowd and the experience of each cook. It should not be a place for all Cordon Bleu chefs or those who fail to take on tasks for a collective effort.

Don’t overcrowd as too many cooks will spoil the broth. Fourteen members to a club should be a manageable number. Ensure that at least six committed members are on board for a sustained group. Couples are ideal partners, but there are caveats, too.

If a couple does not attend, that’s counting two people absent right there. Talk about this ahead of time to tamp down conflicts.

Let’s assume the greater benefit that couples who cook together in your group perhaps model the same unity at home. The bonus from that could pay premium dividends that make for a more robust marriage.

I laud the efforts of Federal Way’s cooking club members for bridging the cultural divide in our city. There’s hardly anything that can bring better relationships across the board than food and drink. War can be brokered around food, and so can peace.

Cooking clubs are not only for grown-ups. Children are getting creative in the kitchen as well. One mother deadpanned that her two young sons put her out of the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. She admitted to being a lousy cook, saying even her dogs refused the cookies she baked.

Themed dinner ideas afford children a ton of fun and opportunities to get involved in the culinary arena. When these pint-sized bons vivants team up with their parents to plan hearty meals, it is bound to be a win-win for all involved.

Some fun food themes kids toy with are football cookies, dinosaur island, kid dough family fun and bear night.

Cooking is fun, therapeutic and festive. Why not become a member of a cooking club near you? Perhaps you can start one. Let me know of your epicurean groups via email.

Here’s to a fantastic group of people that make good things happen one bite at a time!

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