Mar 18, 2009

Join the Club

The soon-to-be-bestselling cookbook

For many years after college I was part of a dinner club with a group of young women in the city. Currently, I’m on sabbatical (don’t ya just hate when your day job runs into your nights!?) but it remains one of my favorite activities and I can’t wait to get back to our weekly get-togethers. Joining, or starting, a dinner club is also a great way for a Single Gal to hone her entertaining skills!

Who Are The Dinner Belles?

Dinner: An entertainment; a feast, the main meal of the day served in the evening or at midday

Belle: A popular, attractive girl or woman, from Latin bella, a young lady of superior beauty and attractions; young woman who is the most charming and beautiful of several rivals

We’re chicks who cook.

We’re also friends, coworkers, roommates, city dwellers, professionals and young, modern women. We’re teachers, sales reps, graphic designers, account managers and so much more. Some of us met in college, some of us met at work… heck, some us met in grade school! We come from all over the country but we’ve all settled in Atlanta, GA where we lead exciting, fabulous, challenging and sometimes stressful lives. And where we take a night every week to cook for each other, sit around a table together, share stories and relax.

We’ve seen each other through bad dates, bad days at work, breakups, boyfriends (some of whom later became husbands), babies, new jobs, new houses and new members… the club has been meeting for eight years and just like The Temptations, all the original members may not be around, but the soul remains!

When you get six women together after a long day of work of course there’s going to be food! But what will it be? And who decides? The Dinner Belles was our solution…

We’d take turns being in charge of dinner. It’s easy. Once a week we all get together for a gabfest, drink a little wine and eat a home-cooked meal. One person cooks and takes all the guesswork away from the group, which means most weeks you can stop worrying about dinner and just enjoy it.

Getting Started:

How It Works: There are many ways to set up a dinner club, our method is different than most. Usually everyone participates in every meal…each person is assigned a portion (salad, dessert, vegetable side dish, etc.). Alternately, The Dinner Belles take turns providing the entire meal, so only one person is working while the others can relax and enjoy a night off. We go alphabetically so we can remember who’s turn it is and we’ve picked a night of the week (Mondays or Thursdays depending on the season) to meet. We all try to leave our schedules clear on that night every week. But things come up…if one person can’t make it then dinner must go on but if two or more members have good excuses and are unable to attend then dinner is postponed until the next week. It’s important to stay consistent with the dinner nights. It can be impossible to plan around the schedules of six fabulous young women like ourselves…so we make getting together a priority and plan around dinner club instead.

Who To Include: Some of the original Dinner Belles had never met before our first gathering. We’re a collection of college roommates, childhood friends who re-connected after college when they discovered they were both living in Atlanta, sorority sisters and coworkers.

So how did we all get together? No one remembers. But we stuck, and many dinners later the group is still going strong. And we’ve all made new friends. So don’t invite the group you spend every waking moment with, take this as an opportunity to meet some new people and expand your social circle. A neighbor, a coworker, your boyfriend’s sister…anyone can be a valuable member. And don’t worry about lapses in conversation because you don’t know each other well-- there’s always something to talk about…the food!

But what if not everyone is an excellent chef? Don’t worry about it! The point of the evening is to be together, good food is just the icing on the cake. There are many different levels of culinary ability in The Dinner Belles from ‘can’t use the can opener’ to five-star gourmand. But we’ve each had our triumphs and disasters, meals both good & bad. And we’ve all become better cooks because of our efforts. Hesitant at first and relying on our mothers’ hand-me-down recipes, we now approach our kitchen duty as a challenge to try something new or improve on something old. Wanna test out a new recipe before you make it for a crowd or a romantic dinner a’ deux with your fella? What better audience than your girlfriends?

So invite some other fun Single Gals over for dinner & tell them each to bring a fun friend or neighbor. If the group clicks, make plans to do it again at someone else’s house and pretty soon you’ll be thinking up a cute name for your new group of Gal pals and scouting menu ideas for the next time it’s your turn to host!

No comments: