Chef Billy Strynkowki teaches the club how to team up in the kitchen to prepare an unforgettable dinner.

August 15, 2008

Chef Billy Strynkowski enters the kitchen and dumps a platter ofheirloom tomatoes on the center island. "Ladies, let's chop thesewith some basil," he announces.

The women raise their knives and begin preparing what will beSummer Tomato Chopped Salad amid a chorus of questions.
"Grace, do you have any sea salt?"
"Where's the measuring cup?"
"Where's the bowl?"
"Where's the wine?"

As the women laugh, Strynkowski produces a box of live lobsters.He holds them aloft, one in each hand, and explains how you cantell the gender by the extra legs the female has on her torso. "Formultitasking," someone jokes.

Wright pours Russell a glass of Bordeaux, then sits down. "Ireally love this," she says, surveying her kitchen and her newfriends, who are busily dicing, stirring, and washing dishes. "Ihad my little social cocoon before. I like breaking out from that.I like the girls so much. We share everything, from how we makemashed potatoes to where to buy great shoes."

Another benefit for Wright and the group has been learning tocook more healthfully. "My mother made these amazing Mexicanpancakes, but they were so fatty," Wright says. "I'm trying outways to make them leaner."

"It's not like we've been meeting for years and we're all thesegreat chefs," Russell adds. "The outcome of the club is that we aregetting better. We try new recipes out on each other. It's acomfortable environment for experimenting."

Across the kitchen, Strynkowski is teaching the women how toextract the custard for the Lemon-Buttermilk Panna Cotta withBlueberry Sauce from its cup: "You allow a little air to get in,pop it, then it falls right out." He wipes his brow, pats down hisshirt, then turns his attention to some thyme that has gone toseed. "When it has flowered, it's too late. It's bitter," heexplains. The women nod and pluck the spoiled thyme from thebunch.

"My son is taking the sat tomorrow," Diamond announces.
"Oh, yuck," Poma says.
"Where do all parties end up?" shouts Strynkowski above thedin of a running faucet, the boiling stockpot, and the affectionatesmall talk.
"The kitchen!" the women answer in unison.
"To the kitchen!" says Strynkowski, raising his glass.
"To the kitchen!"

As the day progresses, the women decide they like cookingtogether. They determine that next time they meet they'll chooseone dish to prepare together in addition to the courses they bring.Nothing to make the night too busy, but enough to collaborate.Their supper club is evolving, as are their friendships.

"It's like a cooking community," Wright says.
"It's something I do just for me," Diamond says. "I'msurprised by how much I enjoy it. Maybe we wouldn't all be friendsif we met at a party, but because cooking was the focus, we easedinto getting to know each other. It just flows."

The meal ready, the women gather around the table to eat. Butfirst, a toast: "To a tremendous amount of fun!" For a minute, theroom falls quiet. Everyone is eating. Praise follows-"terrific,""wonderful," "delicious." Another toast, this time to ChefBilly.

"What is the name of your supper club?" he asks.
The women confer. And then, "How about The Original LongIsland Supper Club?" Russell suggests.
"Why 'original'?" Strynkowski asks.
"Because," Diamond says, "there are bound to be more."

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