A few years ago I read a book by Jen Hatmaker where she raved about her supper club. The gist was that you invite new friends or old friends, decide who wants to make what food and where to host and then see where the night takes you. A time to gather with close friends, enjoy great conversation and devour lots of delicious food- why wasn't this in my life yet?! I had a few couples that came to mind immediately who I knew would enjoy this adventure and the ball started rolling for my very own supper club.
We chose an Italian theme and set a date for our first supper club. We gathered that Saturday night in 2016 and had no clue that over 2.5 years later, many laughs, bottles of wine, some tears and amazing food that we would still be meeting and making this a monthly priority. Something special happens when you commit to seeing the same friends on a regular basis in this busy world.
We have laughed until we are fighting to not spit out whatever delicious food or cocktail was made that night, cried tears of joy and sorrow over life's fortunes and misfortunes, welcomed new babies into our families, sold and bought houses and learned a thing or ten about cooking and the best way to not end the night with an apocalypse of dishes. Speaking for myself (though I think the other 5 would agree), supper club is one of the highlights of each month. Our friendships have grown and evolved since we began this journey together. We not only get to put our cooking skills on display and learn new things about the cuisine we decided to explore that month, but we get to share the highs and lows of our lives on a monthly basis with people who will encourage and support us. And there is wine. And cocktails. Couldn't ask for more than that.
When we began our supper club, we all decided together how we wanted each month to go and set out the ground rules. We liked scheduling it monthly and all vowed to really try to keep to that. Our supper club choose to rotate houses each month and to pick a theme or cuisine to guide our menu choices. We all really love wine and cocktails so we also decided to pair each course with a complementary wine or cocktail. Whoever hosted that month would be in charge of the entree and any sides they wanted to serve with it. Then the other two couples would do an appetizer and dessert. Repeat and rotate homes and courses. We've recently added a quarterly outing in lieu of the traditional night where we pick a restaurant or other event. We've done a farm dinner, attended a cooking class and explored a few new restaurants in Denver.
Are you thinking of the people who you want to start your own supper club with? Here are some tips to help you get started!
Step by step to starting your own supper club:
- Choose your people wisely. You can choose a friend group that you already do a lot with or choose friends who may not know each other but have you in common. Our group was myself and my husband, a good friend of mine from college and his wife and then a third couple who my husband and I knew well and had met our friends a few time before supper club. We all had a basic knowledge of cooking (ahem...all but my husband😂) or at least a desire to learn. We also decided that 6 was the perfect size for us to cook for everyone manageably as well as have enough seating and serving ware. Six to eight people seems like the magic number. Any less and people end up having to do a lot each and every month and any more makes it difficult to seat and serve everyone.
- Schedule your next supper club at the current one. This one is so important! I think it's why we've been able to make supper club happen every month (minus one) for 2.5 years. At the end of each supper club, we all pull out our phones and decide the date for the next supper club. Then it gets added to everyone calendars right then and there and there is no annoying group text later trying to figure out when everyone is free (we have forgotten to schedule our next one a couple times and trust me on this one...you don't want to try to do this over group text). We always try for Saturday nights however we've had to do a few Fridays as well when we couldn't find a Saturday that worked. I highly recommend choosing a weekend night over weeknights because who wants to cook a bunch of food for 6 people after working all day long. Not. Me.
- Choose a theme/menu! This is the fun part! We usually try to do this while we are scheduling our next supper club. Refer to avoiding group texts above. We've done Italian, French, German, Spanish, Mexican, Fall produce, Spring produce, Christmas appetizers and cookies, BBQ (a brand new smoker was purchased by a member of our group for this one...that's dedication), and the list goes on and on. We haven't repeated a theme yet, but I think it would be fun to go back to some of those cuisines and prepare different things than last time. Be creative and find something that everyone is comfortable with. We usually leave the final choice up to the host for the month since they have the bigger course. We've stretched ourselves occasionally (there was that trip to the Asian market), sourced ingredients from Amazon and purchased all kinds of obscure alcohol to make cocktails. Speaking of cocktails, we also choose to pair each course with a wine/beer/cocktail that would complement it well. To make it more simple, the host house could provide wine, margaritas, mules, etc to make it easier than having 3 different drinks.
- Choose food that can be made ahead of time. Trust me on this one. When picking what you will make, think about the preparation that can be done in advance to save you from last minute frying of individual balls of potatoes and making a mess in your friends' kitchen. When I'm in charge of the entree, I try to pick at least a couple things that can be made ahead of time and just need to be reheated quickly prior to serving. You want to be able to enjoy yourself! Now, there have been exceptions to this when I was stuck on serving a particular item and if that happens just recruit the others and have some fun!
- Decide if kids will be involved. Two of the 3 couples have young kids in our group (my husband and I being one of them). We've all decided that when our babies are young and possibly breastfeeding that we will bring them to supper club. Let's be honest, at that young age babies are the jam because they are cute and cuddly and generally don't do much other then lay there and coo. However, once they get a bit older (and start throwing food and utensils and demand themselves heard) we mostly get babysitters so we can really focus on adult time and conversation. When one of the couples with kids host, generally the kids just go to bed early enough that it doesn't matter and everyone is good to play with the kids for a short time before bed. So my advice is just to talk it out with your group and see what works best for everyone.
- Be flexible. Other than really trying to stick to the date you've set each month, be flexible because life happens. We've welcomed two babies into the group and have 2 more on the way. Instead of skipping the month when the babies are born, the other 2 couples will bring over food (our tradition is homemade pizzas, salad and wine). This allows the new parents to not do anything but be awake and hold a baby but still allows everyone to catch up for the month and more importantly get in some much needed baby cuddling. If someone is having a tough month and you know it will be difficult for them to host or bring anything, have someone else step up and host or make additional food instead of cancelling.
We have had some food flops and more dishes than after Thanksgiving dinner but we keep coming back for more each month because this has enriched our lives more than we could have imagined. Go start that supper club!