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Community: Gourmet Dinner Parties

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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June 9, 2014

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Gourmet Dinner Clubs

Image Credit: GracinhaMarco Abundo (North Indian Vegetarian Curry, Thali / CC-BY-2.0

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Gourmet Dinner Parties Offer a Wonderful Culinary Adventure

Gourmet dinner parties are definitely something to get excited about. Cuisines from different countries. New ingredients and recipes. An all out attempt at winning over your taste buds.  If you consider food divine and like to be adventurous in the kitchen then being part of a Gourmet club will probably be to your liking.

Many gourmet groups consist of between 8 – 12 members who meet up every 4-6 weeks at a host’s home. Some clubs may be adventurous by nature experimenting with new cuisines, exotic foods or gourmet ingredients. Others simply choose an interesting theme and go with that.

The host doesn’t necessarily have to come up with the whole meal. Food assignments can be given out to some of the guests. The host provides the main meal while the others might be responsible for the appetizer, entree, dessert or cocktail.

Itching to start your own gourmet dinner parties already? Here are some ideas to help you get started.

1. Agree on the Road Ahead

While I feel variety is the spice of life you might find that potential members are interested in certain aspects of gourmet cooking. Touch base with each friend and create a kind of gourmet road map that will peak the interest of the group for a sustained period of time.

2. Choose the Members

How many people do you want in the group? If you want a more intimate, family-like get-together then 8 is a good number. That way you’ll  get a chance to sit close to the other members and chat with all of them.

Give some thought about who you’re going to invite. Who would you like to see more often? You want to invite reliable people who are interested in gourmet cooking and hosting the group on the odd occasion at their place.

Also give some thought to group dynamics. Inviting someone who is outgoing and humorous could add some zest to your get-togethers. Adding people who have very different careers or life experiences can bring more interest to the group.

You might want to include people who have a similar level of cooking ability as chefs in a group could be somewhat intimidating and some members may feel under pressure to present something as nice.

Another option is to have six regulars and invite two new people each time to the dinner. Regular members take turns to invite their friends.

Image Credit: By Arnaud 25 (Own work) / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Image Credit: By Arnaud 25 (Own work) Canard Laque / CC-BY-SA-3.0

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3. Agree Upon What Guests Are To Do

Some groups only allow guests to enjoy the meal and the company of the group. They are not to prepare, serve or clean up after the meal. This is so they can fully enjoy the dining experience.

4. Set a Regular Time

How often are you going to meet up and when? To increase overall attendance try and agree upon a certain time to meet up like the first Saturday of each month. Send a reminder at least a week before as well.

5. Meeting Place / Food Preparation

Where will the food be cooked and where will you meet up to eat? Most hosts can no doubt manage this in their own homes. Many short-term expatriates or college students living away from home, for example, may not be set up for gourmet cooking. Someone may need to volunteer their home and the use of their stove or oven for the event.

6. Seating Arrangement

I do prefer having all guests around one dining room table instead of them spread out between the dining room table and the living room’s coffee table.

A large dining table that can accomodate 8 people is a great investment affording everyone eating convenience (as opposed to having the plate on your lap) and conversation simply flows better at a table where everyone is seated. If you are worried about it’s footprint buy one that has extendable ends.

7. Decide on How Many Courses

Determine how many courses are going to be served and if there is a budget. If the finances of certain members are strained then you may want to all contribute money to a meal.

8. Drinks

Who is going to provide drinks and what are they going to be? Everyone bringing red wine to a party tends to be overkill not that a surplus is a problem! Also, you may wish to check with guests if they drink alcoholic drinks. Some of my friends overindulged when they were younger and either have an aversion for certain kinds of alcohol or simply prefer not to drink any.

9. Mix Things Up

Keep it interesting, exciting and challenging. Rotating hosts, having guests bring a different category of food like appetizer, entre or dessert and choosing different themes will go along way to achieving this.

Image Credit:  Banej (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

Image Credit: Banej (Own work)Duck roasted with Chinese Angelica  herb [CC-BY-SA-3.0]


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Here are some other ways to spice things up.

* Pay a chef to come in and prepare a meal right in front of the group complete with a running commentary.

* Have a formal night where you dress-up and go all out for the ultimate gourmet dining experience. We’re talking best chinaware, silverware, a themed or glitzy table layout complete with candles.

* Hold a gourmet picnic outside or a pool party where you eat gourmet hamburgers.

* Once a year the group invites family members and friends and cooks up a storm to provide an epic feast.

* Random Spices
Pick three small bottles of spices out of a bag and use them with the meal you have.

THEMES

There are so many interesting themes to choose from. Choose those that interest your group the most and sometimes even randomly choose one. For the latter simply write a dozen themes on pieces of paper, place it in a bag and have the next host choose one. He or she has to run with that at the next dinner party.

Below is a list of themes you can choose from.

* Celebrity Chef Inspired
* A certain ingredient like tomatoes.
* A country
* A color
* A new cuisine
* A meal cooked with tea, beer or Jack Daniels Whiskey.
* Southern-style
* Fondue
* Bbq
* Hawaiian / Tropical Paradise
* Ethnic dish like Thai
* Grandmother / Mother’s Best Recipe
* Only From Scratch
* Stuff from your garden
* Dim sum
* Spice
* A recent recipe from a popular Gourmet magazine or website.
* Mardi Gras or Carnival
* French Country
* Interactive eg. making different kinds of pizzas or a ravioli making party.
* Movie Theme eg. watch the ‘Italian Run’ after an Italian meal.
* Menus planned around a holiday like Christmas or Chinese New Year.
* Exotic burgers
* 12 Days of Christmas
* Apples to Celebrate Fall
* Beach Party to Welcome Summer

Conclusion

Enjoying the company of friends while dipping into a gastronomic nirvana sounds like a winning combination to me. For those who want to become a better cook a Gourmet club will give you the motivation to be so. You may find that some people in your group turn out not only to be very helpful but inspirational as well.
 
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