The members of the Kenilworth Cookbook Club know that adding a dash of fun and a dollop of friendship are sure-fire ways to add flavor to just about any recipe, making this newly created Club, one that leaves women all over the North Shore craving more.
Founded in 2018 by Allison McEntee—a media and marketing executive with expertise in the food industry—the Club started as a way for moms around town to share a recipe or two while building a bond to last longer than the average dinner party.
“I was new to Kenilworth and certainly appreciated the kindergarten and parent parties, but quickly realized that once the busyness of the school year settled in, the chances to socialize regularly became few and far between,” McEntee says. “I was already meeting amazing women, wanting to get to know them more. I hoped that a consistent reason to gather could make that possible.”
She first thought of joining a book club, but when she considered her work and family commitments, McEntee knew it would be a rare instance for her to stay awake long enough to read a few pages, let alone an entire book. Determined to come up with a solution, McEntee turned to food. After all, a meal provides comfort and socialization, while sharing recipes means the dreaded meal rut could become a thing of the past. So when her idea for a cookbook club was well-received by a few close friends, McEntee forged ahead.
During the first meeting held at McEntee’s home, guests arrived with various dishes prepared from the first cookbook selected, The Barefoot Contessa, by Ina Garten. Each woman introduced herself, talked about the dish they prepared, and shared the challenges and joys experienced while tackling the recipe. Throughout the evening, the women ate, laughed, and bonded. By evening’s end, the next meeting date was set and a tagline was developed—The host selects the cookbook, the guests create the dish, we gather, we feast.
The next morning the word about the evening spent sampling sweet and savory goods was the talk of the town. Women started to inquire about the next meeting and before McEntee knew it, her idea exploded into a group of 93 members, a mix of women from Kenilworth and other North Shore villages.
“I was amazed at how quickly the idea caught on. I was further amazed by how the club attracted women from all walks of life. From the new mom who literally delivered a child a few weeks before a meeting to the almost-empty nester. People are united over the comfort and joy that food can bring,” McEntee says. “What struck me were the conversations and friendships that emerged. I found lawyers and CEO’s bonding with stay-at-home moms over the joys and challenges that come with child-rearing. Women who wouldn’t ordinarily fall into the same groups, became friends, adding a new depth to relationships around town.”
Needless to say, with 93 members and growing, the Club’s schedule is now booked until June 2021. A Google doc tracks who is hosting, the cookbook being read and which member is making what dish. Each month, the anticipation of the meetings stirs great excitement. Members like Sarah Gallas of Kenilworth explained how she looks forward to a night of feeding her body while nourishing her soul. “The Club provides me the sense of community that I was looking for when choosing to move to Kenilworth. The group is inclusive and welcoming and it’s a nice way to meet other women in a fun and casual setting. I have formed friendships with some wonderful ladies, as we have the common interest of raising a family in our neighborhood. I always have the best time and feel like I’ve made a new friend. The Club makes me thankful I chose to live where I do,” Gallas notes.
With membership and interest at an all-time high, a club subcommittee was formed to create and publish a community cookbook, Kenilworth Cooks, just in time for the holiday season.