Chicago Area Neighbors Forge Friendships Through International Food Adventures

by Ella

A simple Facebook post on a northwest suburban community page set the stage for an unexpected culinary journey in Mount Prospect.

A couple with a profound love for food and travel, Alex and Clint Hervert, had a vision: to establish a cooking club. Little did they anticipate that their idea would rapidly evolve into a thriving community, uniting neighbors who were once strangers and now share the joys of international cuisine.


Within just a few months, the Herverts found themselves preparing dishes for the fourth gathering of their Mount Prospect International Cooking Club. Alex recounted, “We were thinking maybe we’d find a few couples, like max 10 people that would want to do this. So when I posted it, and there were like 100 people interested, I immediately got overwhelmed.”


Despite the unexpected response, the couple, driven by their passion for both travel and gastronomy, tackled the challenge head-on. They formed a private group, limited membership, and established some fundamental guidelines. What delighted them most was the diverse mix of members representing various stages of life.


One evening, the club convened at the home of Bob and Marilyn Peterson, who hosted a culinary journey to India. The timing was serendipitous for the Petersons, offering them an opportunity to fill the void left by friends who had moved away. Bob expressed their gratitude, saying, “Many of our friends had moved off to Florida, gone to other places, and this was a blessing for us to have this club, to find new people to share cooking with.”


Clint emphasized how the club encouraged them to explore new culinary horizons and broaden their cooking expertise, pushing their boundaries. For many members, it has been an opportunity to experiment with dishes they wouldn’t typically prepare.

At a recent gathering, the room filled with enticing aromas as dishes were set out with care, ready for introductions. Scott and Natalie, for example, brought a slow-roasted lamb with chutney.

This club has been a catalyst for its members to embark on culinary adventures, and it has fostered a sense of community and shared experiences. While savoring dishes from Spain, Thailand, Italy, and India, conversations naturally veer toward travel, as members exchange stories, tips, and advice.

Agata Olszewski, a member of the club, shared, “We haven’t met other individuals in the area that travel as much as we do, and we have kids, so it’s nice to also hear from others that have kids and they travel. The people, the energy, the places they’ve been, the conversation’s amazing.”

Marilyn added, “It’s wonderful. We look forward to it. It’s fun to meet new people.”

Alex Hervert reflected on their initial goal, saying, “The end goal was to make friends, to get to know our neighbors, and it’s been really positive in that way… It’s a great way to meet people and literally break bread with them.”

The club has not only connected its members but has also forged a deeper connection to the Mount Prospect community. Each community meal typically hosts 18 to 20 people, and those who sign up first secure their spot.

Through a shared love of food and exploration, this cooking club has transformed strangers into friends, providing a delightful and heartwarming example of community building through culinary experiences.



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