If you’re looking for a way to build relationships, food can provide that common bond. So, what better way to celebrate a friendship than starting a dinner club? Gather up some friends who like to cook, and have dinner at a different house each month. You can draw up guidelines to create any type of club you desire – everything from old-fashioned potluck dinners to mandatory gourmet meals. Follow this countdown to prepare for your dinner:
Six weeks before
Select your dinner group and set a date. Establish the rules for the revolving party. Choose the first host house.
The host should survey dinner club members about allergies and strong dislikes at this time in preparation for menu planning.
Take stock of your resources. You may have a garden in the back yard that you can highlight or hunting friends that might donate some game.
Luckily, our host is a fisherman, so we enjoyed Gulf Coast redfish. In preparation for this event, he caught, cleaned and vacuum-sealed his main ingredient.
Our host chose a Mexican recipe for the fish because of its potential for a great party theme, his familiarity with Mexican side dishes and the food’s rich colors. Clearly, you can never go wrong with margaritas and sangria.
Four weeks before
Preparation for dinner clubs can be a lot of fun because you’ve got to practice your recipes before the big day.
Two weeks before
Decide what to serve with the entree. Putting your meal down on paper by drawing an actual picture can help you envision how the plates will look.
Our host opted for shrimp-stuffed jalapeños, Mexican rice and spicy guacamole salad, brought to life on a bed of pico de gallo. In order to have a colorful plate, he decided to serve the guacamole in a hollowed out yellow pepper and added a wedge of lemon and lime for more color.
One day before
Purchase ingredients to ensure freshness.
Some items may be prepared and refrigerated before work or early in the day. This prevents an overwhelming amount of work as guests start arriving. Our host prepared shrimp-stuffed peppers wrapped in bacon and refrigerated them. He also began thawing the fish.
Four hours before
Side dishes can usually be assembled and set aside, ready for cooking or to be chilled. The pico de gallo needed to be chilled, so the host prepared it and set it aside to chill. He also ground ancho chili pods, measured out ingredients needed to make rice and hollowed out yellow bell peppers to fill with guacamole.
Two hours before
Guests usually arrive thirsty, so having your beverages ready is a great idea. Plus, a refreshment is a great companion with which to finish up the preparation of the meal. Our host commenced slicing fruit and making the sangria at this time. He also prepared margaritas and put both concoctions aside to chill. This is a great time to set the table, as well.
One hour before
Assemble dishes that depend on freshness. For our host, this was the guacamole salad and fish.
30 minutes before
Crunch time! Get your last-minute cooking done now. Our host now lit the fire under the rice and started the fish. He placed a lettuce leaf on each plate, filled hollowed yellow pepper with guacamole and set it on the lettuce leaf. He also started the shrimp-stuffed jalapeños and spread a layer of pico de gallo over the part of the plate where fish would be placed.
15 minutes before
Guests start arriving. Set out the appetizers and drinks. Our host had a great spread of guacamole, chips, salsa and drinks.
Our host placed the fish on a bed of pico, garnished it with lime and avocado and topped the fish with the remaining mixture of shrimp and mushrooms. He then added rice to the plate and served us.