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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32 comments on “And now for something completely different

  1. Carolyn
    December 2, 2020 at 1:52 am

    Done! Looking forward to a year of this!
    When is the digital download for your book sent?
    I noticed that the subscription is an automatic renewal after one year. What’s the website to change that?

    • Julie
      December 2, 2020 at 12:49 pm

      Oops! thanks for pointing it out – I’ll see if i can disable that.. but you do get advance warnings and can opt out of a renewal. And it’s super easy to refund any accidental payments that go through from our end, so don’t worry!!

      I’m thinking I’ll send the digital download next week! Just finishing up the photos for the last recipe!

  2. Suzanne Dennis
    December 2, 2020 at 6:19 am

    AWESOME idea!
    cant wait to start cooking together
    cheers
    su

    • Julie
      December 2, 2020 at 12:47 pm

      Yay!! thanks!! I love seeing your name pop up!!

  3. Alison
    December 2, 2020 at 6:56 am

    I’m curious to know, if I buy this for family in Ottawa how the time change might affect their ability to access classes? They are live? Will they be recorded? Will they be at different times of day/ evening?

    • Alison
      December 2, 2020 at 6:59 am

      Ok- it’s early and I hadn’t had coffee- I just reread your description of the Dinner Club above, and answered my own questions, haha

      • Julie
        December 2, 2020 at 12:46 pm

        Ha!!!!

    • Julie
      December 2, 2020 at 12:47 pm

      Both! I’ll mix them up so they aren’t all at the same time and on the same day.. but keep them early enough so that it’s not too late out east!

  4. Ren M
    December 2, 2020 at 6:57 am

    Hi! Will the live streams have a play back option or will you schedule them to be most convenient across Canada? You know how it is with different time zones.

    • Julie
      December 2, 2020 at 12:47 pm

      I know, that’s the tricky part! I’ll try to do them at flexible times (evenings/weekends) but yes, they’ll be saved so people can watch later!

  5. Jeneane
    December 2, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Such a great idea – I’m in

    • Julie
      December 2, 2020 at 12:46 pm

      YAY! Thank you Jeneane!!

  6. Corinne Percy
    December 2, 2020 at 8:55 am

    Any adaptations for plant based meals?

    • Julie
      December 2, 2020 at 12:46 pm

      Definitely!!

  7. Sara
    December 2, 2020 at 8:57 am

    Brilliant! Can’t wait! I think I might be getting this for my own self for Christmas… I always choose the best gifts!
    ???
    Keep it up, you amazing inspiration!

    • Julie
      December 2, 2020 at 12:45 pm

      Aw, thank you!!!

  8. Nicolle
    December 2, 2020 at 9:49 am

    VERY exciting, Julie!! And bravo for making your deadline!!! Looking forward to your first class ?

    • Julie
      December 2, 2020 at 12:45 pm

      Yes!!! just making sure everything is working ok and will get the first letter out later today, and plans for the first class!

  9. Anna
    December 2, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    Awesome! I’m gifting this to my daughter, one of your biggest fans.

  10. Anne Martinot
    December 2, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    This is exciting!! I love your website but it is glitchy and the pop up ads make it hard to read. I’m more than willing to pay for something like this – I’m so tired of all the competition series on the Food Network. Love all you do in and for the community ??

    • Julie
      December 3, 2020 at 7:26 am

      Aw thank you!! and there shouldn’t be any pop-up ads?? I added them last year to help pay for all the hosting fees and developer fees (I’ve spent well over $10k maintaining this site!) and because it seemed to be the norm these days, but there are more than I would like.. trying to dial them back a bit!

  11. Glynis
    December 4, 2020 at 9:36 am

    I just asked for the annual subscription for Christmas! I’m so excited! Hopefully Santa gets it for me!!

  12. Pamela Lang
    December 14, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    I want to ask a question about tightly rolling up Cinnamon Bun Crunch Icebox Cookie rolls. My attempts are too loose and the inside fall out!
    How do I contact you?

  13. Sharlene
    December 23, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Julie,
    I signed up for the Dinner Club this week and I am really looking forward to all the things that you are offering. You mentioned a private Facebook group and I’m wondering how we join it.

    • Sharlene
      December 23, 2020 at 9:14 am

      I did a bit more digging and found it, joining now.

      • Julie
        December 29, 2020 at 10:07 pm

        Sorry Sharlene! You should have received an email invite! Glad you’re in!

  14. Kathryn
    March 1, 2021 at 7:05 am

    I am just wondering how soon after you join that you get access to everything. I got access for the February newsletter, but nothing else. Can’t wait to dive in.

  15. Kenia
    May 4, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Hi! I was wondering at what time do the live streamings take place? I would love to join from Finland but it may be difficult with the hour change!

    • Julie
      May 5, 2021 at 3:56 pm

      They always change! I put the info in each weekly foodletter! It would be amazing to have you join from Finland!!

  16. Terie-Rae Rickey
    September 12, 2021 at 6:59 am

    I was just wondering if there are any spots left in the dinner club for an Inglewood neighbor?

    Please let me know.

    Thanks

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