How do you start a cookbook club?
  • I love cookbooks and would like to have meetings with friends to discuss cookbooks. How do you run a cookbook club? How do you run a meeting? Any advice would be helpful! Thank you!
  • This is a great idea - it would be fun to have the cookbook club meetings be a potluck featuring recipes from that cookbook under discussion. But I'm not sure how you would start - maybe post some ads in local specialty food/cookware stores and bookstores?
  • I found this guide on a book-club website. Not that you have to follow it slavishly, but it does give advice on setting up and running a cookbook book club. And we'd be delighted if everyone reviewed the recipes on Cookbooker after your meetings!
  • This is such a great idea! I'd never heard of it, and last night, laying in bed reading cookbooks, I was regretting not reading novels and not being in a bookclub. Is anyone out there in a cookbook book club?
  • I think it sounds like a great idea too! It's too bad we all live so far apart because the members who participate here would be perfect candidates for a cookbook club.
  • I agree, Leeka. I am going to try to persuade my local friends to do this.
  • If anyone does it, please share how it went and how you organized it. Perhaps we can put a guide together for other people if it ends up differing much from the one linked above.
  • I just read about a sort of on line cookbook club. They just started and the plan is to take a foodie book (sometimes cookbook) each month, then read and discuss on line. The first one is by Kathleen Flinn called Kitchen Counter Cooking School. They even offer you a coupon for a discount on the book but looks like it's cheaper on Amazon even with the coupon at the other site. Here's the link about the club if anyone is interested. I thought of this discussion when I ran across this.

    If you live in AZ they are also going to be doing some live events at Changing Hands Book Store. This is the store offering the discount coupons for the book club.
  • I was in a cookbook club for about five years. A local book store held it, partly to drum up sales, but it was very low key that way and we were happy to support a local business anyway. We chose a book to buy every 3-5 months and we all got a copy (at a 20% discount). We cooked out of it those months, never coordinating who would bring what, and there were never any duplicate recipes. After a few years, we started giving the members the option to buy one of three books and then we were all happy each time. That way we'd get to try a few dishes from many books. It turns out that the book store owners decided to close the business, but the club lives on, nearly two years afterward. There have been a steady 10 members of the club at any given time. Now, members take turns holding it in their houses, and have all gone out to lunch or dinner together a couple of times. We have done special meetings of cookie swaps and Secret Santa exchanges. We all say polite things about each other's cooking, even when we sometimes bring a dud item: it's the recipe's fault, right? Wink, wink! But the ladies are actually all great cooks, even when they claim not to be. Books we used: Big Sky Cooking, Jamie Oliver Cooks at Home, Susan Spungen's Recipes (my personal favorite), James Peterson's Cooking, Food to Live by, America's Test Kitchen Cookbook, Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking, Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, Nick Malgieri's The Modern Baker.
  • Thank you all for such great advice! Cooksbakesbooks, thank you for the details of your club. I knew there had to be more to it than just discussing which cookbooks we owned!
    If anyone else has more to share, please don't hesitate to post!
  • My friends and I are trying to start a cookbook club. We are loosely following the suggestions on the link from Andrew, near the top.

    We have a core group of six women - and we selected "around my french table" as the first cookbook. I offered to prepare the main dish (although I have not yet decided what), and the other 5 are selecting dishes to prepare. We email the group when someone selects a dish category (e.g. Jojo recently claimed dessert). Our plan is to meet the last Sunday of every month. Happily, three more of the group have stepped up and offered to host - and suggested cookbooks - so we should be good through April.

    I figured that six was a safe number - if one or two people cannot make it, we can still put together a meal.

    I will report back, and I will review all the recipes we test.
  • Anyone in the NYC area? I would love to do this.
  • Our first cookbook club met tonight. Five of us prepared something from "Around my French Table", and we had a wonderful feast. I plan to tag all the reviews with "cookbook club". There was a lot of enthusiasm, and we have another planned for the last weekend in February. We'll do a Jamie Oliver cookbook. I didn't specify which types of courses people had to make, and we still ended up with a great diversity - soup, grain, vegetable, meat, and dessert. Of course, we also bought some French red wine to go with it. bhnyc - you are welcome to join us in SLC any time.
  • bhnyc --I live not too far outside the city and come in pretty regularly. I have a friend or two, one a cookbooker member and one not, one in the city & one not, who might also be interested. If you are still interested (I hadn't checked the forum for a while), feel free to e-mail me at
  • A quick update on our February 2012 cookbook club meeting and challenges. Our group of six, plus a few husbands and kids, met for our second meeting (12 total). We used "Jamie's Great Britain" - which was a bit of a challenge for us. This is a cookbook written for a european audience - with weight measurements, hard to source ingredients, and "funny" names for things. But it was a lot of fun, the food was amazing, and the difficulties encountered made for good discussion. There is enthusiasm within the group to keep going. Next month we will use a huge cookbook from Cooks Illustrated (The New Best Recipe). We divided up courses this time, and most of us opted to select our recipe later.

    The one problem we seem to encounter is figuring out how to share a single cookbook among six busy people. When the group is together it is much more fun to talk and eat than it is to concentrate on a cookbook. This might be a reason to select a cookbook TWO months ahead of time. Luckily our next cookbook is available at the library, so sharing shouldn't be such an issue. Also, I'm lucky - 13daughter is very good at selecting recipes, and at the party she did find something that caught her eye - Asparagus with maple syrup, soy sauce, and scallions, and its already been favorably reviewed here!
  • sounds like fun. keep us posted.
  • Thanks, @cadfael. I was worried that I was boring people... Our March session used a cooks illustrated cookbook - huge with lots of recipes. I think the group is becoming more sophisticated in its discussion of the recipes, the difficulties encountered, and perhaps willing to be a bit more critical. Its certainly a lot of fun! For April we will use "the essential cuisines of mexico" by Diane Kennedy. I'm thrilled -- having just been to Mexico City for a vacation, I have renewed respect for their diverse and delicious cuisine.
  • QS, I've been enjoying reading about your cookbook club adventures as well. Look forward to hearing what is tried and the reactions from the essential cuisines of mexico.
  • I've belonged to 3 official book clubs and usually attended meetings having never read the book. I am a cookbook/cooking magazine ADDICT and have a nightstand full of them all ready to read at all times! In my dreams, I would be in a cookbook book club!!! I'm jealous, Queezle Sister (and, in the South Denver area, if there might be any takers here!).
  • Salt Lake City is probably too far. But if not, amyrinco, we'd welcome you.

    We met last night and cooked out of Diana Kennedy's The Essential Cuisines of Mexico. It was an amazing meal - I prepared two appetizers (reviews soon to come), other contributions were tamales, mushroom pudding (the highlight of the night), Chiles en nogada (a runner up for highlight of the night - amazing), and Cajeta de Celaya - a goat's milk dulce de leche - that tasted delicious but never did thicken. We consumed it over vanilla ice cream, and it was awesome. Finally, this was accompanied by margaritas and mexican beer.

    There are several Hispanic markets in town, and we enjoyed comparing notes on where we shopped, and what we found (or didn't find). Utah turns out to be a pretty good place for finding Mexican ingredients.

    Food was great, but as always, it is the companionship of lovely people who happen to also be great cooks that truly makes the night.
  • Our May selection is "recipes for an Arabian night" - it has a great assortment of middle eastern recipes, and I think it will nicely complement the things we learned from the Foods of Morocco challenge. I selected soup course, and expect to try a couple options - you'll see the reviews here. Anybody know anything about almond soup??
  • We have had two more cookbook club meetings. The May meeting was "Recipes for an Arabian night", and we had lovely, but less complex mid-east food than in we'd used one of Paula Wolfert's cookbooks.

    For June, we used an amazing cookbook called "The Italian Farmer's Table: Authentic Recipes and Local Lore from Northern Italy". This might be the most interesting of the cookbooks so far. Northern Italian farms that offer a B&B-like experience, but with an emphasis on foods produced on the farm, were highlighted and their recipes showcased. I found the recipes to be more unusual and to have a surprising combination of flavors. The meal was amazing. I will try to review several of the highlights.

    July the club returns to my house, and we will all cook from "Super Natural Every Day". These hot summer days made all of us wish for lighter foods.
  • I envy you your cooking sounds like so much fun!

    I'm waiting for a library copy of Super Natural Every Day....I want to take a look at it before committing to a purchase in the event it's chosen for the next cookbooker challenge.....though it's so highly recommended, I'll probably buy it regardless.
  • My cookbook friends all want cookbooks with color photographs, so that ruled out several of my choices. This isn't a perfect cookbook, but the titles intrigued my friends, AND there are lots of library copies. The library copies make it much easier for everyone to have enough time with the cookbook.

    I wish you could join us! Maybe you have a group of friends and you could start a similar group. I'm impressed at how much my girlfriends like this, and the husbands find it a lot of fun, too.
  • Although I had misgivings about selecting this book for our cookbook club, it worked really well. How do my friends find recipes that I've never noticed? I've reviewed all the recipes, including those prepared by my friends, and tagged with 'cookbook club'. My perception of this cookbook (Super Natural Every Day) is that it includes a lot of ingredients, but my friends found the dishes easy to prepare, and the ingredients to not be so difficult to line up. The meal had all great dishes - so wonderful. This party made me appreciate this cookbook more than ever.

    Next month will be quite different - up one of our local canyons in a picnic spot - maybe all dutch oven, and possibly not restricted to a single cookbook! Stay tuned, friends, I'll let you know how it all works out.
  • QS, I really enjoyed reading your recipe reviews from this makes me think I was a little too hasty in returning it to the library so soon!

    Looking forward to your next cookbook club meeting......canyon picnic...sounds wonderful.
  • QS, I'm enjoying those reviews from your cookbook club too and makes me want to check out that cookbook as well. I'll be waiting to hear how your next meeting goes with the Canyon Picnic.
  • I'm very late to report to all of you on our cookbook club's canyon BBQ. We had a lovely venue, and a wonderful meal that even included home brew. I prepared this cornbread, and others prepared dishes such as Chili Verde and chicken enchiladas. It was nice, but lacked the cohesiveness of all cooking from a single book. On the other hand, to sit back and watch the starts as darkness descended was a treat.

    Our next one will use this cookbook, an older (1984) natural foods cookbook. Its a huge book, intended to be a natural alternative to tomes such as Joy of Cooking. I will make appetizers, and was intrigued by the chapter on sea vegetables. So I intend to prepare something with the unfortunate name "rice and sesame balls". If time, I will also prepare Blue Cheese Flan - its not a flan in the sense that I know the term, but could be rather interesting. I'll report back soon!
  • Glad to hear that your cookbook club is still going strong and am very curious about that cookbook.
  • Cookbook club update time. In October we used an older natural foods cookbook - Rodale's Basic Natural Foods Cookbook. This older cookbook has no photographs, it is large (lots of recipes), and for me, at least, it was difficult to find something to select. I was intrigued by the chapter on sea vegetables, and I settled on making an appetizers, a rice ball that was rolled in Nori, but somehow I neglected to review it. I was surprised at how delicious the meal was -- those old recipes really held up. But I think its easier (at least for me) to select recipes using a cookbook with fewer recipes.

    Due to scheduling, our next meeting was early December. We used Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson. This is a delightful cookbook. Its goal is to make entertaining easy. There are suggestions for how to prepare ahead, substitute ingredients, and which dishes go particularly well with other dishes. In contrast to the Rodale book, I managed to review all of the dished cooked for our gathering. I really liked this cookbook, the food was very good to magnificent, and I can see that using it really would make entertaining easier. This experience has made me interested in other Pam Anderson cookbooks, such as The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating great.

    The current plan for our next meeting is new years - a tapas style dinner, and selecting a recipe from any Bon Appetit cookbook. And perhaps bringing a cocktail recipe, too. I've suggested we all bring sleeping bags as well, as testing six cocktails might make driving hazardous!
  • Long over-due update!
    January was tapas and cocktails, and it was fun but a bit disorganized. February we had Indian food from Indian Home Cooking, and I was amazed at how much I loved that cookbook. I believe that March was back at my house, and we did a Paula Wolfert dinner, using either Food of Morocco or Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean. Then May we used a cookbook from a Utah restaurant - from Hell's Backbone Grill, where many of us had eaten. The cookbook is lovely, though probably not easy to find outside Utah. Finally today we were back to Moosewood, or Moosewood low fat. Great cookbooks, though when we had the cookbooker challenge they had seemed rather dated. This meal, though, was terrific.
    Next month we will be on to Paula Dean. Yikes - but it should be fun.
  • My cookbook club still continues!

    We have trouble being organized over the summer (too many busy schedules), but we just regrouped for a Cuban Cookout (From Latin Grilling) for Labor Day. The same six founding members, and strong opposition to expanding the group. For you new cookbookers, we gather monthly (or try to), with hosting rotating among the members, and the host selecting the cookbook and preparing the main dish. Lots of delicious cooking.
  • I'm so jealous. I don't think I could find 3,4, or 5 cookbook people nearby to do this with.
  • I am definitely the biggest cookbook fanatic of the group. Three others enjoy cooking, and there are two who mostly appreciate the party. Selecting cookbooks with easy options helps to keep the group together. I thought the group had died when I couldn't get us together all summer, but there was strong consensus to keep going when we finally did gather. Scheduling remains one of the big problem areas.
  • Happy to hear you're still cooking with your group even if you did take a little time off for the summer.
  • I did see that article - and it was such a description of our club! Down the the specific books mentioned. Thanks all!
  • I figure since I'm vegan, the odds of forming a club are slim. I'd be happy with a cooking partner, if I just knew how to find one. My ex had that arrangement, but I'd rather cook HIM than cook with him (hey, even veganism has its limits.)
  • That does sound a little bloodthirsty for a vegan....I have two friends with whom I cook on occasion and it's great fun. Maybe we should try a little more cyber-club cooking.
  • 2017 and the cooking club still lives! Same members! We eat out in December, and try to get a kitchen tour. I am hosting in may, and selected "my two souths" for our cookbook.
  • I'm participating in a cookbook club on Facebook called Cookbook Junkies Cookbook club. Our selection for May is also My Two Souths and I'm loving cooking from it.
  • What a wonderful coincidence! That sounds like a great group you've found and I have enjoyed the cookbook, too. Sadly, I have to give it back to the library today, but I will come back to read your reviews, and check it out again. There are some very good flavors here.

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