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Santa Rosa’s Miracle Plum Cookbook Club Brings Foodies Together

The club began in January 2019 with just 22 members and has since grown to over 100. At each gathering, members bring dishes from a preselected cookbook and share a potluck meal.

“Cooking together or sharing food is a great way to learn about someone else. It bridges generations, and it’s a really beautiful and safe way to interact with each other,” says Gwen Gunheim, co-owner of downtown Santa Rosa’s Miracle Plum marketplace — a haven for local foodies — and cofounder of its popular cookbook club.

The club, which meets every two to three months, began in January 2019 with just 22 members and has since grown to over 100. At each gathering, members bring dishes from a cookbook chosen in advance and share a potluck meal. “What’s so cool is that the club is made up of people who are as curious about food as we are, and we’re just sitting around talking,” says co-owner Sallie Miller. “It’s literally bringing people together around food.”

Aura-Lee Salmeron of Sebastopol attended her first meeting last June. “They choose really great cookbooks … and I like to experiment,” she said. “Plus, we get to eat together, and I get to meet new people.” Salmeron also feels good about the club’s request for a small donation that goes to a charity of the cookbook author’s choice.

A stack of cookbooks chosen by Sallie Miller and Gwen Gunheim, the owners of Miracle Plum, for their Miracle Plum Cookbook Club. (Beth Schlanker)
The Miracle Plum Cookbook Club enjoys a potluck dinner in June with dishes from Palestinian author Yasmin Khan’s “Zaitoun” cookbook in the courtyard behind Miracle Plum. (Gwen Gunheim)

Members include both beginning home cooks and professionals, and the atmosphere is non-intimidating. “We tell them, ‘Bring what you can,’” says Miller. “The whole point is that you come to share.”

This January’s cookbook selection is “Heirloom” by Sarah Owens, a lushly photographed homage to traditional food practices such as preserving, fermenting, and sourdough baking. It’s a warming choice for the winter season, which, Gunheim says, “feels like a time for community.”

The club’s next meeting, featuring recipes from “Waste Not: How to Get the Most from Your Food” by The James Beard Foundation, is Sunday, April 19, at Miracle Plum, 208 Davis St., Santa Rosa. You don’t need to have purchased the book at the store to participate. Suggested donation $5-$20. Call 707-708-7986 for more information. RSVP hi@miracleplum.com.

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