An Anecdotal Description of

OLLI Gastronomers


What do you do?

Initiated at OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at UCI, Olli Gastronomers is a group of mostly retired folk who get together once a month to do something related to food and beverages.  We've been at it since mid-2015.

The range of possibilities is broad.  We've done potlucks and plenty of dining in small and diverse ethnic restaurants.  We've participated in the preparation of food under the guidance of a local chef, and had a guided tour of a Japanese supermarket.  We've had food air-freighted from Katz Deli!  Lunches and dinners, hotdogs and coq au vin; if it intersects food and drink, it qualifies.

We've had events in a public park, in homes, restaurants, back-yards, and commercial kitchens.  So far, we've only done them in Orange County.


How does it work?

Members queue up at an annual planning meeting. pick a month and an idea, and the rest is up to them.  Sometimes it's got a lot of wow and gee-whiz built in: Souvenirs, floor-shows and funny hats.  Other times it's just a quiet meal with little fuss.  Organizers do what they like and the rest of us provide the praise and appreciation.

In all cases it's a lot of fun, with plenty of opportunity to prattle on about life's ups and downs with our confreres.  Though only nominally an "educational" process, some of us do get good ideas for our own daily culinary pursuits, and possible ideas for travel.

When a member's selected month gets to the top of the list, they provide the webmaster the details, he updates the website and sends a link to the "new event" webpage.  Those who are available will RSVP via an email link, and send the host a check.  So far costs have been roughly $25 to $35, though it's gone up and down.  There is no stated restriction for fees, though I assume if you schedule a specially selected chef's tasting-menu at Spago, the attendee-count will drop.  But just so you know--I'll be there.

Though the roster is around 65 people at present, not everyone attends regularly, and there is usually a limit on party size based on the restaurant or size of the home, the level of misery in the plotting and planning, and other considerations.

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