Learn. Cook. Eat. Drink. Laugh.
This is the mission statement of the Gig Harbor Cooking Club, an eclectic group of amateur chefs who have formed lasting friendships through food.
The club began two years ago, after one member spent a month in Korea. While in Korea, she went to a cooking school in Seoul and posted about it on Facebook. Her friends asked her to teach them what she had learned. And that is how it started.
When the group gathered for the first time, it wasn’t intended to become a regular event, but everyone just clicked. The group laughed and enjoyed cooking together. They were inspired and couldn’t wait to do it again.
Much like a book club, the Gig Harbor Cooking Club brings together a group of people, most of whom didn’t know each other before, to enjoy a shared love of food, wine, worldwide cuisines and cooking techniques.
“My favorite part of the cooking class is the gathering of everyone and working together around the kitchen island,” said club member Dori Nixon.
Nancy Rimel agreed. “We are all different and most did not know one another until we started cooking together,” she said. “We share our mutual love of cooking and then dine with anticipation and gusto!”
The club meets two to three times a year and has so far worked together on the cuisine of Korea, Argentina, Tuscany and France.
The 12 members have a variety of cooking backgrounds, from caterers, home cooks and wine stewards to those who learned at their grandmother’s knee.
“I started cooking at a very early age with my grandmother,” said Tomi Kent Smith. “Cooking via our club allows me more creativity by observing how the others accept and enjoy the work.”
Most of the club members are there because they just love creating and eating good food.
“I was excited about the first one,” said Della Slosar. “I hadn’t tried too many Korean dishes. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the different banchan and kimchi.”
For each gathering, the club chooses a cuisine and someone volunteers to be the host. The host develops the menu and purchases all the ingredients. In lieu of exchanging cash to pay for the ingredients, all club members bring wines to share at the meeting as well as wine for the host to keep.
The Gig Harbor Cooking Club meets on a chosen Sunday afternoon and they cook anywhere from four to eight dishes before all sitting down together to eat, drink and celebrate their success and the cuisine du jour.
Club member Dayl Minch summed it up by saying, “The beautiful part about this group is everyone is involved in the creative cooking process. When we all sit down to enjoy the dishes we made, we feel like a family.”
The host usually tries to include some interesting information about the country they are celebrating. For instance, a Korean Tea Service was included and Argentinian Mate (a hot drink made from the leaves of the yerba mate plant and consumed communally) was served at previous gatherings.
The idea of cooking together socially is gaining momentum. There are various themes on this idea, from potlucks and cookbook clubs to progressive dinners and dining out clubs. The Gig Harbor Cooking Club will continue to evolve.
“I think in our future, we can change up the theme once in a while from different countries to something like a focus on sauces, or don one on nothing but pasta,” said Daniel Jackson.
Love to eat, drink and be merry (and cook)? Why don’t you take a page from the Gig Harbor Cooking Club and start your own club? And learn. Cook. Eat. Drink. Laugh.