Origin Story:

The Thursday Night Gourmet Book Club (www.gourmetbookclub.com) was launched out of my taste for adventure, travel, entertaining, and cooking, that I acquired from my mom and dad. We always vacationed every year, both my mom and dad cooked but even more, they loved to entertain. They always had beautiful parties with Herb Alpert playing on the stereo, multicourse meals with cocktails, displayed on beautifully dressed tables of complementary linens, matching charger plates, fine crystal, wine, water glasses cut by my grandfather, gold plated utensils and beautiful China. They always made magnificent meals that left the guests wanting more. I wanted to give my friends a little morsel of the finer things in life, like my parents did so many years ago.

I craved adventure and further refinement. I set out to stimulate my mind and sophisticate my palate by reading more and challenging my culinary skills. I got myself a Kindle and an Audible subscription. And, I love watching the reality cooking shows. The Food Network's Chefs are my inspiration. I found I wanted to explore outside my boring-spiceless-Midwestern-handed-down recipes I had usually and always made. I’ve learned however, there is a real talent to creating food that tastes exceptional and looks appealing. It requires the ability to put a menu together where the dishes complement each other, and the cocktails and wine pairings further augment the food. Most importantly however is that it is more fun if you can share your creations with others.

I thought to myself, how could I do this? I thought just having friends to dinner might not attract people to keep attending monthly. I had to make it more interesting. I needed to not only provide a meal, but I needed to bring a little intrigue and adventure into my friends lives too. I needed to provide some intellectual stimulation, along with adventure, good food, and interesting conversation.

In October 2015, I set out to do just that. I invited all 800+ Facebook friends of mine to join my dinner book club. It's now settled into a core group of 12 local people. Monthly, we select a new book based on where we want to eat in the world. Since 2015, we have been around the world and making our way around again. Some places we’ve been more than once because in many countries there are culinary differences by region. I make a 5-7 course meal from wherever the book takes us in the world. I include a signature cocktail, wine, appetizer, soup/salad, main dish/side dish and dessert. I dress my table with linens, dinnerware, and décor that further provide an experiential meal with traditional music from the locale playing on Alexa and sometimes I’ve required my guests to dress their part as well.

I realized I achieved my desires for adventure, travel, entertaining and cooking when I was approached in the grocery store by a woman behind me in the checkout lane, she asked “May I ask you a question? Are you a chef?” I responded, “Why do you ask?” She said, “Because you have chef food in your cart.” I realized that I had produce, spices, and proteins that were non-traditional for a boring-spice-less-Midwestern-handed-down recipe kind of gal. I loved it.

I hope you enjoy taking advantage of the books we’ve read, menus and recipes we’ve tried, and suggestions and other ways to complement, enhance, and improve the experience that I have researched and tested with friends over the years and continue to do so. I don’t know…they keep coming back. See the world through books and/or food. Enjoy the subscription, the experience, and the adventure!


Mary J




Mary is a results-oriented executive with an entrepreneurial spirit, and proven record in strategy development and creative execution of exceptional solutions for businesses and individuals. She employs impeccable planning to achieve dazzling results. She has a bachelor’s in management, an MBA and a Masters in Human Services/Marriage and Family Counseling. Her passion is to help others in all she does.