And now for something completely different

Hey friends!

So I’ve had an idea brewing for awhile now, and it seems like a good time to jump in and just do it already. I promised myself I’d get it out there by December 1, and I’m just squeezing it in before my midnight deadline.

I’ve been trying to reimagine how to best utilize all the digital technology that’s available to us to do more fun things between my kitchen and yours. I’ve been getting a ton of requests for Zoom cooking classes throughout the pandemic, and have been trying to wrap my mind around how to best accommodate more people – most of the classes and events I’ve been doing have been for private companies, agencies and organizations, some of them fundraisers, cooking shows and such… but I’d like to do more classes that are open to anyone. (Remember back in February, we had the first of what was supposed to be a series of real-life and live-streamed kitchen parties? The second had been planned for March… what timing!)

I’ve been learning how to work with various platforms, but most of my classes have been on Zoom — I love that I can see you cooking in your kitchen too (if you want me to!), and you can show me what you’re making, how your dough looks, and talk and ask questions. So! I’m going to start doing pop-up kitchen classes (pop-up meaning I won’t have a set schedule), and I’d like to keep them small and intimate, and also affordable… I’ll announce them on social media as I plan them – and I’m thinking they’ll be limited to 25 in order to keep them intimate, on a pay what you can basis (suggested $20?). Of course since you’re in your own house, you can tune in with whomever you happen to be living with – you could take a class with your kids, or make dinner with your partner! We’ll have some fun and learn some things!

But! my idea has two parts: because small classes will only accommodate a limited number of people, I’m also launching… a Dinner Club!! A community of cooks and eaters who want to learn more (or just eat more), whose clubhouse would probably be a sandwich.

Here’s what a subscription to Dinner Club entails:

A weekly Foodletter: every Wednesday I’ll send out a link to a PDF that can be downloaded, printed and saved – the way we used to tear recipes out of newspapers or magazines. Each will revolve around a recipe (or a few!), with other info and photos and perhaps some embedded video if it helps show how to stuff/fold/braid something, because why not? Digital has more potential than a printed page, so we may as well have fun with it! (They will be archived in one place in case you lose track, and each will have links to PDFs of just the recipes to print off and save, if you don’t want to keep the whole document!)

Access to a private Facebook group, for more direct, real-time questions and community conversations.

Regular (bi-weekly-ish) live streams — from my kitchen to yours! We might tackle risotto, or biscuits, or meringue… I’ll send out the details — day and time, recipe(s) and ingredient list — a few days in advance (via the Foodletter), so there’s the option to cook along. (Or of course you could always just sit back and watch/ask questions with a gin + tonic!) A live feed isn’t as small and intimate as Zoom classes, but it means anyone can join in as often as they like, and still ask questions via the chat box. (And the videos will be saved to refer to later!) We’ll start by doing these in the private Facebook group, since it’s simple to implement and most people already have it, and I’ll add live feeds that are accessible via a YouTube link for anyone not on Facebook!

— You’ll also get a copy of a digital download I just finished putting together – a small project I decided to try in lieu of a print cookbook release this year. The theme: It’s Hip to be Square — a bakers’ dozen recipes for sweet squares and bars! Just for fun.

I want it to be very affordable. A monthly subscription to the Dinner Club is $10 (and if you want to sign up for a whole year at once, $100) — with the caveat that if you are at all unable to afford it, please email me and I’ll just add you… learning how to cook should not be cost-prohibitive! (As I type this, a friend texted me that she’s paying $23 PER virtual spin class!)

I considered working in a charitable element, but I spend such a large chunk of my time working on and having discussions around issues of food insecurity, with various hunger-related not-for-profits, agencies and grassroots community groups, the city, etc. (and of course it’s all on a voluntary basis)… I have a few big projects in the works that are really exciting but will require more time— and ultimately, having a more steady income stream on this creative side of what I do means I’ll be better able to commit energy to this work while still keeping the lights on at home (and paying for W’s imminent braces—sigh). In short, I feel like I can be far more impactful in the community with my time and efforts than another monetary donation. (I’m already involved in a lot of fundraising initiatives too. 🙂

So. Of course this won’t take away from what I’m already doing, it will just add to it — a redirection of the energy I used to devote to writing for other magazines, developing recipes for food clients, and doing real-life classes and events back when it was possible… it just means I get to focus more of my energy toward what I love to do most.

The platform is pretty rudimentary, but it’s simple and works well – and doesn’t require you to create a membership or install software or anything. And the Foodletters are snazzier!

Here’s the button to sign up for a monthly subscription!

Here’s the button to sign up for an annual subscription!

And! Although the platform I’m using won’t allow for gifting a month-to-month subscription (though you could just sign up on someone’s behalf, then switch emails when you surprise them), I’ve figured out how to do one year-long subscription as a gift: during the checkout process, click on the little gift icon, set the date you’d like the email notification to go to the recipient (ie Christmas, or their birthday!) and add a custom message. (This only works with the below annual gift option.) I’ve also added a downloadable graphic post-checkout that you can print if you want to tuck it into a card or stocking, or attach it to a wine bottle for someone you love.

Here’s the button to buy an annual subscription as a gift for someone else! Click on the little gift icon in the email box to open a drop-down where you can add the recipient’s name, delivery date and a personal message!

I’m totally flying by the seat of my pants here.. I hope everything works smoothly (it should – I tested them all!), but please let me know if you have any questions or come across any glitches. (And I’ll plan and post about some one-off Zoom classes soon!)

Thank you!! Seriously.
xo Julie

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