Supper Clubs – Finding the Right People

Finding the Right People

Getting people who mesh well together is always a challenge. One benefit of supper clubs is coming across all kinds of people. The good news is that you get to meet people. The bad news is that the chances of them being a great fit are pretty slim. One of the beauties of my supper club experience is that my wife and I have used the more formal supper club, where there are a lot of people, to find the smaller group that we really wanted to be friends with. In the end, dealing with a few jerks can be worth it if you get to know some very interesting people.

The solutions on how to find people to participate in a Supper Club are broad ranging:

  • Neighborhood groups
    • One of the easiest ways to find people and conveniently located.
    • The Classic Supper Club model is based on our neighborhood. We have a neighborhood association that publishes a newsletter. There is a section that advertises participation in the supper club. I have actually heard of people that bought a house in our neighborhood because they knew about the supper club.
  • Internet groups
    • One site you could use to get started getting together with people over food is People get connected through the site, usually at a local restaurant.
  • Colleagues
    • We all spend quite a bit of time with the people we work with. The subject of socializing over a meal is very easy to interject. When I lived in Delaware, I traveled with a guy I worked with. We would dine together on a Wednesday night and the subject of my supper club would come up. It didn’t take long for him to want to be part of the Saturday night supper club, where I would try to replicate the dishes we shared at a restaurant the previous Wednesday.
  • Church groups
  • School groups
  • Facebook friends

The supper clubs I have been involved with have led to real friendships. We have formed clubs from the wide array of sources listed above and have learned there is no one right way to find the right people. Trial and error is the only way. Going through a few bad experiences makes you appreciate the good ones.

Finding the right people has some real benefits. While most of us know a thing or two about wine, it is great to have a wine and beer experts in the group.

My friend, Scott, is the perfect example. He is excellent at paring the right wine with the menu. Scott, like many wine “experts,” has an excellent wine collection and is great at offering up a few (or 10) delicious bottles from his cellar. Scott was such a good customer of the local wine store affectionately named “Germantown Baptist Wine and Liquor” by Scott’s wife Kathy that when he moved, the wine store flew their flag at half-mast for weeks.

In my neighborhood, we are also blessed to have a “beer guy” as well. Tom Schoelkopf worked for Anheuser Busch and is a great guy to have at a party. You can count on him to bring a good selection of Budweiser’s classic product as well as some newer products they are developing. For many of our supper club events, people are asked to bring an appetizer. Tom is famous for asking, “Do you want me to cook or should I just bring beer?” Somehow, the answers are pretty consistent

It can be difficult to find the right people for a supper club. A good thing about being part of a larger group is that you get to meet a lot of people. Some you like and some, not so much. IFN Cover

The Elevator Speach

A quick outline of what Impromptu Friday Nights – A Guide to Supper Clubs is about:

Almost everyone likes to socialize over a meal. Supper clubs that bring people together to enjoy a meal are natural enablers. The concept of supper clubs (hosting regular dinner parties) seems simple but the “how to” can be daunting. This book shows the reader how to set up supper clubs, provides options for different club formats, from large and formal to small and informal, and includes sample menus with recipes.

One of the cornerstones behind this book is the French culinary concept of “Mise En Place.” Loosely translated, this means put into place. Whether you are a classically trained chef or a weekend warrior hosting a dinner party, the key to success is preparation. The book has been written with menus, recipes and preparation plans to show the reader how to do things in advance so that the host/cook can enjoy the party and have a better chance of preparing and presenting a great meal.

Each chapter outlines a different kind of supper club based on different preferences – from a classic formal club to a club where members can’t cook but they know where to get great food. Chapters go over organization, club make-up, scheduling, host responsibilities, menu development, mise en place and costs. Sample menus show how to put a meal together, and prep schedules at the end of each chapter guide the reader to executing mise en place. In addition, sections listing prep time, cook time, cookware needed and wine recommendations complete the guide for a reader to be able to host an amazing meal.


Who should be interested?

Supper clubs are a great solution for most generations but it is a particularly attractive concept for millenials, the “social” generation. Millenials grew up going to great restaurants, watching the Food Channel, and practicing being foodies. They know a lot about good food. While many might love the supper club concept, they are searching for a guide on how to get one set up. This book has been written with millenials in mind with the goal of providing a roadmap for them with simple solutions so they can enjoy the benefits of supper clubs. They are entering the stage of their lives where supper clubs will be a great fit with their socialization needs. As they settle down into longer-term relationships, get married and start families, supper clubs provide a great way to get together with friends over a meal.


Impromptu Friday Nights – A guide to Supper Clubs will be available from Morgan James Publishing in January 2018

What if I don’t cook?

“I Don’t Cook, but I Know Where to Buy”



When talking about Supper Clubs with people one of the first things I hear is: “I don’t cook but I love to socialize over a meal”. There is a chapter in the book outlining a type of club that is a perfect solution. This type of club is for people that either don’t like to cook, can’t cook, don’t have the time or are simply not good cooks. In today’s “foodie” world, there are all kinds of options to bring people together over a great meal without cooking.


This club is patterned after my daughter’s mother in law. Helene is a foodie and a great hostess, but she doesn’t cook. She and her husband, Rick, bring together great meals by shopping from local markets and restaurants. One of the best things about this type of club is the research. Think of all the fun you can have trying different foods from all kinds of markets and restaurants with the objective of hosting a supper club meal.


While there are some great restaurants in Montauk, getting reservations and fighting crowds can be quite a challenge. The perfect answer is a supper club.


It can be tough to get into the your preferred restaurants on a weekend no matter where you are, whether you are in Montauk or have a lake house in Iuka, Mississippi or live in the city. You can, however, get amazing food from just about any restaurant via takeout.




Club Make-Up


This type of club is based on who is out for the weekend or who you see at the beach or run into at Starbucks. Emails and last minute texts are great to find out who is around on a weekend. One thing about having a place in the Hamptons is that you have a lot of visitors. Every weekend, you can count on family and friends to be around. Without fail, they are hungry for a great meal. Come to think of it, whether you are at a beach house or just hanging out at home, an impromptu dinner party where you don’t have to cook is a winner.





This type of club is more of a ‘planned impromptu’. It is certainly more flexible than other types of clubs. A little planning goes a long way to spread the hosting responsibilities around. Having the club evolve to where you have a schedule of hosting responsibilities is ideal. One of the keys is flexibility, as you usually don’t know about last minute additions.



Host Responsibilities


Coming up with the theme and the menu is the first thing the host has to do. For example, when I am out in the Hamptons, my favorite theme is Seafood and Local Produce. It’s funny, but when you say “New York” to non New Yorkers, they think “city.” They don’t think farms and great local produce. The truth is that during the summer and fall, there are all kinds of farm stands and wonderful local produce. And, the seafood is just phenomenal. Lobster, clams, swordfish, scallops, blue fish, flounder… It is all good!


Coordination and communication are the keys to this type of club. By default, the host has to take over the bulk of this responsibility. The host has to let people know:


  • Where
  • When
  • The theme and menu
  • What to bring
  • Who is responsible for what


As with the majority of supper clubs, the host does the lion’s share of the cleaning. With this type of club (and others) you can delegate the cleaning or even bringing plates and glasses. You may know, for example, that Harry never cooks and his wife really hates hosting. Put him in charge of clean up. One thing I have seen over the years is that resentment builds up when a couple never wants to host a party. Everyone has a friend like this. You like their company and want to include them but you know they will never reciprocate. Here is your chance: give that person or persons other jobs.



Mis En Place


The preparation for this type of club is different. It is more about scheduling and coordinating pick up. Helene and Rick out at Montauk will serve a first course and Rick will disappear and run down to Gosman’s to pick up the lobster. A 15-minute run to a restaurant to pick up hot food is not that big a deal. With conversation, alcohol and hors d’oeuvres, chances are no one will miss a person or two. Again, with coordination and communication you can be prepared without doing the cooking.





There are two basic approaches to costs:

  • Pay for what you are asked to bring
  • Total all cost and divide it equally as demonstrated in the classic club formula



Menu Development


This menu is a little different in that not only do you need to think of the items, but you also have to think about where to buy it (again: research is key and, fun).



The following are examples of menus developed for no-cook supper clubs hosted in the Hamptons and Memphis.

Helene and Rick spend their summers in Montauk, NY. Montauk is a fantastic place in the summer. From a year round population of 3,000, it explodes to over 30,000 during the summer. Located on the very tip of Long Island, it is a two-hour car or train ride from NYC. Weekends in the summer can get a little crazy as people escape from the city to the seashore.