Dinner club our way — and thoughts on variations

Janet Testerman Creswell stirring the risotto to accompany her entree.

So, some friends and we have started a dinner club. We have done some research on how to do it “right” and have discovered, thankfully, that there is no “right” way! So, we’ll tell you what we are doing and give you some links to other resources. We definitely think you should do it. It’s so much fun!

Ours started with four couples — most online resources say between six and 10 people is the ideal number, so we are good there. Because we all are so crazy busy, we decided just to do it quarterly. This is an anomaly. Most dinner clubs apparently meet monthly or even more often.

We also are going to be the kind of dinner club that actually cooks the meal at the dinner location. Some bring already prepared dishes, but, to us, that seemed more like a potluck than a dinner club.

Anyway, follow here and we’ll show you what we did and give you some links to see what others do.

Our members: Joey and Janet Testerman Creswell, Jacque and Cliff Hawks, Dino Cartwright and Mitchell Moseley, and Alan Carmichael and me.

Alan and I volunteered to host the group in our new condo in the J.C. Penney Building on Gay Street. We haven’t moved into it yet, but it is mostly furnished. We have had several events there — political fundraisers, a baby shower, etc., — so we call it our “event center!”

This whole thing started after brunch one day when we all had been to the Market Square Farmers’ Market. Jacque, who, like us, lives downtown, commented that, as the summer was winding down, she was anxious to buy the late corn and peaches. This would become part of our dinner! (Photo by Jacque Hawks.)

Jacque volunteered to use her Farmers’ Market haul to make corn and lobster soup and homemade peach ice cream! Who could resist an offer like that?

As hosts, Alan and I were in charge of appetizers. (Since we obviously would be the first to arrive!) I have a favorite appetizer called “Shrimp in Puff Pastry.” But, I call it “Pain in the Ass Shrimp” because, well, you get the idea!

“Pain in the Ass Shrimp” before they were popped into the oven.

That bottle contains some of our favorite olive oil that you can buy only at The Market on Gay Street downtown. You pay full price for your first bottle (about $14) and then, subsequently, you refill the bottle from a big keg and it only costs about $11 for each refill. The oil, from Greece, is a rich green color and very flavorful.

“Pain in the Ass Shrimp” are a pain, not because they are difficult to prepare, but because there are so many steps. First you crisp up some bacon and combine it with Boursin cheese. Then you clean, de-vein and butterfly the shrimp and stuff them with the bacon-cheese mixture. Then you cut puff pastry into thin strips and wrap a strip around each shrimp. It’s time-consuming, but not difficult.

Here’s the finished product.

Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, another favorite appetizer.

First things first! Wine for everyone. Here’s Dino being photo-bombed by Jacque!

Janet and Mitchell enjoying some quality time before dinner service.

Here’s the set table. We used our wedding china and crystal — from 1984.

Joey in a festive pose.

Cute pic of Jacque and Mitchell.

Janet filling the water glasses.

Some of the guys struck a pose. Seated, Mitchell, left, and Cliff. Standing, Alan, left, and Joey.

Cliff volunteered to pair the wines with the food. Corn — which, of course, was the main ingredient in the corn and lobster soup — is notoriously difficult with which to pair wine.

Cliff selected a dry Riesling — and it was perfect.

Jacque heating up the soup.

Dino pouring the Riesling.

Adding garnish.

Wow. You all, this was fantastic! The piece de resistance: sous vide lobster tails with tarragon.

A toast to the beginning of a great tradition!


Next up? Janet with stuffed pork tenderloin, just out of the oven. Wow.

Plating the entree. Side dish was an amazing butternut squash risotto.

Here’s the finished product. That’s a LOT of food! Yummy food!

Dino and Mitchell, non-cooks, contributed nonetheless. They brought two delicious varieties of bread and lots of wine.

Alan and Cliff prior to dessert.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Jacque was scooping out that homemade peach ice cream!

And, get this. Dino was pouring Prosecco over it!


And, there were cookies that Jacque made!


Dinner ended just in time for us to see this beautiful dusk sky.

The end of a fun night.

So, here are some other takes on dinner clubs.

Southern Living has five tips: https://www.southernliving.com/entertaining/supper-club

Cooking Light shares ideas: https://www.cookinglight.com/entertaining/supper-clubs/how-to-start-your-own-club

We don’t agree with most of the “rules” in this article. The host does all the cooking. (No!) Children are allowed. (Definitely not!) No cellphones allowed at the table. (Are you kidding me?) They meet every other week. (Don’t these people have a life?) But, you can read it, if you like: http://theweek.com/articles/750874/supper-clubs-are-great-heres-how-start

This blogger has a lot of suggestions and “rules.” See what you think: https://pinchofyum.com/dinner-club 

Are you in a dinner club? Any ideas to share?

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7 Responses to Dinner club our way — and thoughts on variations

  1. Gay Lyons, on September 21st, 2018 at 10:27 pm said:

    Fun!!! I have wanted to do something like this for a long time. I think we talked about this years ago & never got around to making it happen. I love to cook, but it’s so much more fun to cook with & for other people.

  2. Monique Anderson son, on September 22nd, 2018 at 10:23 am said:

    I would love to do this type of club. My parents were in one for 35 years. Looks great

  3. Cynthia Moxley, on September 22nd, 2018 at 10:46 am said:

    Gay and Monique: Do it! You’ve already got the first four people!

  4. Alan Carmichael, on September 22nd, 2018 at 4:20 pm said:

    How can you be sure every course at a dinner is delicious? Invite some very talented friends who know their way around a kitchen to join a supper club, and you will have great food AND great conversation.

  5. Cynthia Moxley, on September 22nd, 2018 at 4:22 pm said:

    Alan: You are SO right!

  6. Mardel, on September 29th, 2018 at 8:47 am said:

    I belonged to a dinner club much like this when I lived in NY. It was a great way to enjoy great times with people over wonderful food. We each hosted and the host cooked, but I really like this idea of sharing the cooking and still having a lovely sit-down dinner, instead of the dreaded pot-luck. Inspiring!

  7. Cynthia Moxley, on September 29th, 2018 at 9:35 am said:

    Hey, Mardel: I really like the shared experience. Reduces pressure on the host. And just makes for a more participatory experience. Getting ready for the next one!

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