June 18, 2024

What is a cookbook club? A culinary soiree to try new cuisines, techniques and eat with friends

You’ve heard of book clubs and you’ve heard of potlucks, but what about a gathering that combines the two?

Cookbook clubs are a growing trend where people select a cookbook to read, get in the kitchen to recreate a recipe, and then get together with friends for a shared culinary experience to enjoy an array of different dishes from the same author.

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Much like the blog-turned-movie starring Meryl Streep, “Julie and Julia,” in which Julie Powell cooks her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” others have shared their own similar attempts online, but with new titles.

Trent Pheifer, a self-proclaimed “store-bought version of Ina Garten,” whipped up Garten’s Boston Cream Pie recipe alongside the Food Network star to celebrate him completing all 1,272 of her published recipes.

Now, as more mix cookbooks with community, people are sharing their cookbook club experiences on social media.

“If you’re looking for something fun to do with your girlfriends, this is it,” Maddy Olson said in a video on TikTok.

Olson showed a group of her girlfriends in a large kitchen, all of whom prepared and brought a different dish, ready to be reheated or finished, garnished and plated.

Another great thing about the concept is the versatility and flexibility. From what title to collectively cook out of to when you should host, cookbook clubs are a unique way to enjoy a meal with friends while introducing people to new cuisines, techniques and flavors.

In February, Stephanie Lau launched a cookbook club in her one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, hosting 20 of her friends.

“One of my personal goals this year was to spend less time scrolling in front of a screen and to turn my online community into something that’s real-life and in-person,” Lau told “Good Morning America.” “Cookbook club is something that was the right answer to help me achieve this goal.”

Stephanie Lau hosted a cookbook club with each guest cooking a recipe from the same cookbook.

Stephanie Lau

Lau explained that starting a cookbook club is easy: “All you really need is a space and people who love to cook — just make sure there’s enough food for everybody.”

This month, Lau’s original group of 20 grew into 50, and each person prepped a plate from “More than Cake” by Natasha Pickowicz. Among those in attendance was home baker Ryan Nordheimer.

VIDEO: ‘Cookbook clubs’ bring together cooking and community

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“I immediately jumped on board so that I could start making some real connections,” Nordheimer told “GMA.” “The best thing that I’ve made was definitely the espresso chocolate hazelnut cake — getting to layer these up in a cake that ended up I think being 15 layers tall, was really fun and something that I enjoyed eating and allowing people to enjoy too.”

Another member of Lau’s cookbook club, Katie Carroll, said that the monthly get-togethers have also helped her to save money.

“You’re not paying the $100 that it would be to go out with your friends to a normal restaurant,” Carroll said. “[You] have your own bottle of wine or your own little cocktail that you make, and then it’ll be a three course, four course meal that is definitely at least a quarter of the cost.”

An array of dishes from “Asada: The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling,” on a dining table for a cookbook club in New York City.

Kelly McCarthy

“I think that what brings a cookbook club together and makes them great is just the people that are there,” Lau said.

GMA cookbook picks

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More Than Cake: 100 Baking Recipes Built for Pleasure and Community Hardcover

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Asada: The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling by Bricia Lopez, Javier Cabral

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