Cooking Club Offers More than Culinary Delights

Members of a cooking club gather around a meal.
Pam McCarthy-Kern shares how starting a cooking club filled more than just the bellies of her group of friends.
Pam, Lori, Beth and Mary gather around one of their club's meals.

On a fortuitous night about ten years ago, while enjoying a delicious meal and wine with my friends Jewel, Nancy and Roseanne, Jewel mentioned that she’d like to learn more about cooking and suggested that we form a cooking club. We eagerly agreed, then extended the invitation to our friends Lori, Beth and Mary whom we knew shared our passion for cooking. We decided to meet every other month. The host would set a theme and make the entrée, and each of us would bring another part of the meal.

This month, our cooking club enters its tenth year. Our gatherings have taken us on culinary journeys around the world, from Russia to Portugal to Myanmar and beyond, and to many parts of the U.S., with meals built around traditions such as the Shore Lunch, American Southwest, and Southern Soul Food. Our dinners are lessons in geography, history and culture. They’re also delicious and sometimes a bit raucous. At our Hawaiian-themed meal that took place on a subzero January night, Jewel showed up wearing a grass skirt and coconut bra. The fun continued with Blue Hawaiians, SPAM® sushi, numerous delectable courses, and Nancy and Roseanne performing a hula dance and song they’d learned as children.

We mostly gather for meals in our homes, but occasionally we attend food-related events. One night we teamed up on a philanthropic outing where we cooked dinner at the Kids Café at Perspectives, Inc. in St. Louis Park, creating a meal with the children that would introduce them to favorite dishes tweaked with unique flavorings and spices. It was a fun, inspiring evening and we hope to do it again soon.

Since forming our cooking club, we’ve enjoyed nearly 60 dinners and countless glasses of wine together, and our food knowledge and friendships have deepened through our mutual love of cooking. As we look to the future, we can’t wait to see what culinary adventures await us!

Contributed by Pam McCarthy-Kern, co-founder of Because Collective and City South Magazine editorial board member.