Cooking has long since fascinated us. Just look at the long list of cooking and baking shows dating back as far as 1946, and things are not slowing down.
People who were never interested in cooking are now seeking information on the many options available for all palates—home cooking, ethnic cooking, vegan cooking, farm to table to name a few. If you’ve got a favorite, you can learn to cook it.
If you do not believe us then just ask Skelly Stevens, owner of Cooking Club GVL.
As with so many businesses over the last year and a half, the pandemic inspired this former publicist and food enthusiast to start her own endeavor.
Her clients included restaurants and hospitality venues in both NYC and Charleston before moving to Greenville in 2019. In fact, two of her former clients in Greenville, while in her Public Relations job for Sprouthouse Agency in Charleston, were Husk Greenville now Husk Barbeque, and Hall’s Chophouse.
She credits her mother as her inspiration for her love of cooking and describes her as a “fantastic at-home chef.” Through their many mother-daughter cooking moments, she recognized the meaningful time and connection that cooking together provided and wanted to share it with others.
“I wanted to connect to the Greenville community and to other people,” says Stevens,“and I thought cooking was the way to do it.” Cooking Club GVL started with 15 members in January 2021. “Now we have 100 members and growing,” says Stevens.
Stevens describes the club as casual—gathering in people’s homes, sharing recipes and breaking bread together—the very things that COVID took away from us. The club brings working professional women and stay-at-home moms together over their love of cooking who may never have met otherwise.
“My overall philosophy,” explains Stevens, “is to make food approachable and easy. I like to keep it simple with easy-to-access ingredients no matter what the cuisine.” She encourages people to contribute to the larger group whether they are an amateur chef or seasoned home cook.
The physical structure of the eating gatherings takes place in two stages. Members get to choose in which they would like to participate based on their preference and schedule. Prep night is a cocktail style evening with appetizers, wine, champagne or a signature cocktail. It involves 15-18 members, or more if space allows, and is hosted in one of their homes.
Or they can participate the following day in the cooking club luncheon, also hosted in a member’s home. Members work together to prepare the meal from start to finish. Stevens says, “the opportunity to break bread together after preparing the meal creates great camaraderie.”
All members who participate in the prep night or luncheon each pay $15 to help with the costs incurred by the hostesses for ingredients and alcohol. Stevens adds, “currently there is no membership fee, however, as Cooking Club GVL continues to grow and offer additional, exclusive partnership opportunities/events, the format may transition to paid.” She encourages interested people to follow along on Instagram at cookingclubgvl.
Stevens looks forward to opportunities in the near future to work with partners like Cook’s Station on various topics including Knife Skills, Charcuterie, Wine Pairing and Pasta Making. “We also plan to continue to work with guest chefs,” says Stevens.
Though her goal is to one day scale beyond Greenville, for now Stevens offers her best advice for making a business happen, “think about what makes you tick—passion projects, side loves—and how you can leverage interest, monetize and grow them in the future. Anyone can do this!” Bon Appetit!