When Lindsey Gray, owner of Little Rock, AR-based Eggshells Kitchen, saw an opportunity to combine her love of cookbooks with the store’s host of cooking classes, she jumped at the chance. The independent gourmet store owner developed a class centered around a cookbook, much like Samantha Fagan, owner of Troy, NY-based Culinary Square, to bring her community together.
“What I love about this is that it is a community builder, not a money maker,” Gray said. “We had 17 people in the class last night and none of them knew each other. By the end of the class, people were hugging and exchanging numbers. It really felt like new friendships were formed over food, which is really what it’s all about.”
Those who wish to participate in the class pay $5 per person and then Gray sends out recipes from the selected cookbook, the time it should take and the level of difficulty. Everyone got back to her about their selections and then brought their finished product to the store to enjoy a cookbook potluck dinner.
“Everyone shared information about their recipe,” Gray explained. “We went around and they gave advice on what worked and what didn’t work and what they would do again or wouldn’t do next time. One person, who made a corn and feta salad, said that next time she would do it like Mexican street corn and everyone gave their input.”
Gray said that after some of the social media posts about the class, the interest in the event piqued and that the members on the e-mail list for the class more than doubled overnight. She also noted that sales of the cookbook – which she discounted for the group – where also healthy as many of the attendees purchased the book before leaving.
And while not everyone may want to purchase every cookbook that is featured in the class, Gray said that she gives everyone who attends the selected recipes for the night.
“That way, they can just take the ones that they love or the ones that they want to try at home,” she said. This, she explained, helps customers create their own, personal “cookbook” of recipes.
Gray noted that there will be a new cookbook every month, and while she hopes that many people will return, the flavors and styles of cooking may not appeal to everyone, leaving new attendees with a spot at the table.