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Delta Swap Chef Dinner: A Taste of Two Cities

Delta Swap Chef Dinner: A Taste of Two Cities


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Delta is taking the “eat local” trend to new heights. The airline recently launched an in-flight dining program that spotlights regional dishes and local purveyors. To promote this palate-pleasing project, Delta hosted a unique, bi-city dinner party: Delta Swap Chef.

Delta Swap Chef featured two dinners, one in Seattle and one in Los Angeles, where famed chefs from each city swapped kitchens for a night. The participating chefs — Seattle’s Ethan Stowell and L.A.’s Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo — made tasting menus sourced from a mix of ingredients from both towns. Before each dinner, the chefs prepped together, with the hometown chef(s) showing off their favorite farmers markets, fishmongers, and cheese shops. After all, as Vinny puts it aptly, “the best chefs are usually the best shoppers.” Overseeing the four-day affair was Atlanta chef Linton Hopkins and master sommelier Andrea Robinson, both culinary ambassadors that Delta has tapped to elevate their in-flight experience.

I was lucky to attend the fun Seattle feast, which was held at one of chef Stowell’s many restaurants, Tavolata, on November 9. Chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, co-owners of L.A. hotspots Animal and Son of a Gun, manned the kitchen, while Stowell worked the room. From Dungeness crab topped with daikon and yuzu to Manila clams with chilies and grits, each dish deliciously married foodstuffs from both towns. Thanks to a trip to Ballard Farmer’s Market the previous day, where Shook and Dotolo got a taste of Seattle’s signature rain, the menu featured chanterelles from Foraged & Found.

In light of Seattle and L.A.’s perch along the Pacific Ocean and proximity to produce, most of the meal highlighted flavors from the sea and farms. Two tasty exceptions: an Edwards Country ham that Chef Hopkins cheekily brought as a carry-on and an awesome foie gras, biscuit, and maple sausage gravy combo Jon and Vinny imported from LA. Sommelier Robinson hand-picked lovely wine pairings for each plate. With a wink to Seattle’s beer scene, she matched local brewer Holy Mountain bourbon barrel-aged King’s Head Oatmeal Brown Ale to the aforementioned foie.

During the meal, I got to chat with Hopkins, the James Beard Award-winning chef that Delta picked in 2014 to develop this local food initiative. “Airlines have chosen systems over deliciousness,” he explained, lamenting the bland fare that is often served on board. Hopkins showed Delta that by using regional producers, like AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery, they could improve taste while helping the communities they serve. With millions of hungry fliers, Delta’s support can bring great success to local purveyors. It’s a win-win for small business and our bellies.

As an example of Delta’s locavorism, Hopkins shared that this first part of the Seattle-L.A. Swap Chef had spawned a possible new food partner: Stokesberry Farm, for their farm-fresh eggs. This was one of the many relationships fostered from the dinner. “Swap Chef isn’t one night only. Now Ethan is a friend. We’ve cooked together. We’ve walked markets together,” gushed Hopkins.

The affable chef is a fitting ambassador for Delta. The airline has realized that food has the capacity to create connections — just as their planes link passengers near and far. Future Swap Chefs are on the horizon. In the meantime, Delta will continue to enhance their menus, one local flavor at a time.


Anyone for a Gathering of Introverts?

“At work they complain incessantly,” said Mr. Rosenzweig, 41, an editor at an environmental consulting firm who is wearing a polo shirt with spaceship insignia. His colleagues give him guff about the 2-foot-by-3-foot “Star Trek” poster he displays prominently. And at home in North Brunswick, he knows better than to greet neighbors with a Vulcan salute.

But once a month, Mr. Rosenzweig feels free to indulge his passion, when he gets together with other members of the Morris County New Jersey Star Trek Meetup at the Empire Diner in Parsippany. The group, which now has 39 members, gathers to talk TV and dissect its own home-produced “Star Trek” series.

Mr. Rosenzweig and his friends found each other on the Web site Meetup.com, which has helped create about 2,000 social groups in the suburbs of New York City in the last five years, according to Andres Glusman, a spokesman for the site.

The size of the groups ranges from a handful of people to hundreds, Mr. Glusman said. Many meet monthly.

In Trumbull, Conn., 30 pug owners come together to walk and talk. Over in Fairfield, a handful of vegetarians swap recipes at a meat-free restaurant. A dozen proud Subaru owners gather to talk engines and bodywork in Paramus, N.J. And a couple of amateur golfers who stash six-packs of beer in their carts hope to add to their number in White Plains.

Judging by the 3,500 topics currently represented on the five-year-old site, no interest is too narrow. Mah-jongg enthusiasts have found one another on the site, and so have marriage arrangers.

Meetup.com was credited with playing a huge role in helping to transform Howard Dean from a little-known governor to an early front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential campaign, when groups organized by his supporters proliferated on the site.

Over all, the more than 22,000 Meetup groups bring together 3 million people worldwide, Mr. Glusman said.

Other Web sites, including Craigslist, offer similar opportunities for people to get together, but Meetup’s strength is its focus on club-forming. Unlike dating sites, it unites broad clusters of people. And unlike MySpace and Friendster, it emphasizes the rewards of meeting in real time, face to face.

“You could try to accomplish something similar with Yahoo! Groups, but that’s primarily a mailing list,” Mr. Glusman said. “It doesn’t provide the local people, tools and training to organize an offline community group.”

In suburbs across the region, much of the Meetup activity revolves around singles mingling and stay-at-home moms arranging playgroups. The site indicates the number of members in each meetup, and the region’s largest, with 744 members, is the NJ Over 30, Over 40, Over 50, Sexy and Sassy group. It meets monthly at different restaurants and bars around the state.

“My hunch is that in large cities like New York, there are more established institutions helping people meet each other,” Mr. Glusman said. “In the suburbs, with the sprawl, you can see people every day in the grocery store but never know that they’re extremely passionate about flying or want to practice their Spanish. We’re probably more useful to people in the suburbs.”

Suzie Calo, 40, a bookkeeper and a former party planner from Eastchester, N.Y., has helped organize two Westchester County-based meetups: a ghost-tracking group, with 81 members and a divorce support group, which has 86 members. Ms. Calo said many people formally join groups by posting personal profiles but don’t necessarily show up at gatherings. The divorce group has about a dozen core members, she said, and the ghost trackers about half a dozen.

Meetup groups don’t cost anything to join, but organizers pay the site $12 to $19 a month, based on their specific Web needs. Ms. Calo said the value of the groups is the opportunity they offer to meet people with similar interests and in similar situations.

“In the divorce group, we’re there recommending lawyers and listening to each other’s Jerry Springer nightmares,” she said. “And the ghost trackers — I’ve had experiences with paranormal phenomenon, and so have the others. We get together at a diner, and we talk.”

Some organizers say the site has helped them promote causes.

“I was anxious to do something to elect a candidate,” said William Kransdorf, a 49-year-old lawyer who heads an 18-member group, the Essex County Barack Obama Meetup, which gathers monthly.

On a recent Tuesday night, 11 people showed up at the Goat Cafe in South Orange, N.J., to discuss Mr. Obama’s presidential chances. A couple of students from Seton Hall University and several men and women in their 30s and 40s attended.

“I had to get involved in this campaign,” Mr. Kransdorf said. “This meetup is just my way of doing it.”

On Long Island, the Web site has helped reinvent the potluck dinner. Pat Maiti, 54, who produces a cable television show called “A Taste of New York,” recently organized a gathering at her Syosset home for the Long Island Social Chef Dinner Party Meetup. Of the group’s 113 members, about 40 showed up with different dishes to share.

“I came tonight because I wanted to meet people and make connections,” said Gail Giunta, 37, the owner of a reiki massage studio. Ms. Giunta had traveled to Ms. Maiti’s house from her home in East Hampton.

Larry Katz, 42, an administrator at a medical imaging center from Fort Salonga, said the group draws a diverse crowd. “The food is great, but it’s also a very good way to meet interesting people,” he said.

The allure of simple friendship motivates many participants.

Every other week, 3 to 10 members of Andrea Berman’s New Haven French-language group meet over crepes at a cafe. “I’ve always been interested in language and culture, but this is also a way to socialize,” said Ms. Berman, a 36-year-old engineer. “For the people who come regularly, it’s a really nice feeling.”

One worth building on, by Meetup’s reckoning. On June 9 at a still-undisclosed field near White Plains, the Web site plans to hold its first NYC Suburb Meetup Olympics and barbecue.

“The idea is to pit Meetup groups against each other in fun and games,” Mr. Glusman said. “It’s going to be a big, fun picnic.”


Anyone for a Gathering of Introverts?

“At work they complain incessantly,” said Mr. Rosenzweig, 41, an editor at an environmental consulting firm who is wearing a polo shirt with spaceship insignia. His colleagues give him guff about the 2-foot-by-3-foot “Star Trek” poster he displays prominently. And at home in North Brunswick, he knows better than to greet neighbors with a Vulcan salute.

But once a month, Mr. Rosenzweig feels free to indulge his passion, when he gets together with other members of the Morris County New Jersey Star Trek Meetup at the Empire Diner in Parsippany. The group, which now has 39 members, gathers to talk TV and dissect its own home-produced “Star Trek” series.

Mr. Rosenzweig and his friends found each other on the Web site Meetup.com, which has helped create about 2,000 social groups in the suburbs of New York City in the last five years, according to Andres Glusman, a spokesman for the site.

The size of the groups ranges from a handful of people to hundreds, Mr. Glusman said. Many meet monthly.

In Trumbull, Conn., 30 pug owners come together to walk and talk. Over in Fairfield, a handful of vegetarians swap recipes at a meat-free restaurant. A dozen proud Subaru owners gather to talk engines and bodywork in Paramus, N.J. And a couple of amateur golfers who stash six-packs of beer in their carts hope to add to their number in White Plains.

Judging by the 3,500 topics currently represented on the five-year-old site, no interest is too narrow. Mah-jongg enthusiasts have found one another on the site, and so have marriage arrangers.

Meetup.com was credited with playing a huge role in helping to transform Howard Dean from a little-known governor to an early front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential campaign, when groups organized by his supporters proliferated on the site.

Over all, the more than 22,000 Meetup groups bring together 3 million people worldwide, Mr. Glusman said.

Other Web sites, including Craigslist, offer similar opportunities for people to get together, but Meetup’s strength is its focus on club-forming. Unlike dating sites, it unites broad clusters of people. And unlike MySpace and Friendster, it emphasizes the rewards of meeting in real time, face to face.

“You could try to accomplish something similar with Yahoo! Groups, but that’s primarily a mailing list,” Mr. Glusman said. “It doesn’t provide the local people, tools and training to organize an offline community group.”

In suburbs across the region, much of the Meetup activity revolves around singles mingling and stay-at-home moms arranging playgroups. The site indicates the number of members in each meetup, and the region’s largest, with 744 members, is the NJ Over 30, Over 40, Over 50, Sexy and Sassy group. It meets monthly at different restaurants and bars around the state.

“My hunch is that in large cities like New York, there are more established institutions helping people meet each other,” Mr. Glusman said. “In the suburbs, with the sprawl, you can see people every day in the grocery store but never know that they’re extremely passionate about flying or want to practice their Spanish. We’re probably more useful to people in the suburbs.”

Suzie Calo, 40, a bookkeeper and a former party planner from Eastchester, N.Y., has helped organize two Westchester County-based meetups: a ghost-tracking group, with 81 members and a divorce support group, which has 86 members. Ms. Calo said many people formally join groups by posting personal profiles but don’t necessarily show up at gatherings. The divorce group has about a dozen core members, she said, and the ghost trackers about half a dozen.

Meetup groups don’t cost anything to join, but organizers pay the site $12 to $19 a month, based on their specific Web needs. Ms. Calo said the value of the groups is the opportunity they offer to meet people with similar interests and in similar situations.

“In the divorce group, we’re there recommending lawyers and listening to each other’s Jerry Springer nightmares,” she said. “And the ghost trackers — I’ve had experiences with paranormal phenomenon, and so have the others. We get together at a diner, and we talk.”

Some organizers say the site has helped them promote causes.

“I was anxious to do something to elect a candidate,” said William Kransdorf, a 49-year-old lawyer who heads an 18-member group, the Essex County Barack Obama Meetup, which gathers monthly.

On a recent Tuesday night, 11 people showed up at the Goat Cafe in South Orange, N.J., to discuss Mr. Obama’s presidential chances. A couple of students from Seton Hall University and several men and women in their 30s and 40s attended.

“I had to get involved in this campaign,” Mr. Kransdorf said. “This meetup is just my way of doing it.”

On Long Island, the Web site has helped reinvent the potluck dinner. Pat Maiti, 54, who produces a cable television show called “A Taste of New York,” recently organized a gathering at her Syosset home for the Long Island Social Chef Dinner Party Meetup. Of the group’s 113 members, about 40 showed up with different dishes to share.

“I came tonight because I wanted to meet people and make connections,” said Gail Giunta, 37, the owner of a reiki massage studio. Ms. Giunta had traveled to Ms. Maiti’s house from her home in East Hampton.

Larry Katz, 42, an administrator at a medical imaging center from Fort Salonga, said the group draws a diverse crowd. “The food is great, but it’s also a very good way to meet interesting people,” he said.

The allure of simple friendship motivates many participants.

Every other week, 3 to 10 members of Andrea Berman’s New Haven French-language group meet over crepes at a cafe. “I’ve always been interested in language and culture, but this is also a way to socialize,” said Ms. Berman, a 36-year-old engineer. “For the people who come regularly, it’s a really nice feeling.”

One worth building on, by Meetup’s reckoning. On June 9 at a still-undisclosed field near White Plains, the Web site plans to hold its first NYC Suburb Meetup Olympics and barbecue.

“The idea is to pit Meetup groups against each other in fun and games,” Mr. Glusman said. “It’s going to be a big, fun picnic.”


Anyone for a Gathering of Introverts?

“At work they complain incessantly,” said Mr. Rosenzweig, 41, an editor at an environmental consulting firm who is wearing a polo shirt with spaceship insignia. His colleagues give him guff about the 2-foot-by-3-foot “Star Trek” poster he displays prominently. And at home in North Brunswick, he knows better than to greet neighbors with a Vulcan salute.

But once a month, Mr. Rosenzweig feels free to indulge his passion, when he gets together with other members of the Morris County New Jersey Star Trek Meetup at the Empire Diner in Parsippany. The group, which now has 39 members, gathers to talk TV and dissect its own home-produced “Star Trek” series.

Mr. Rosenzweig and his friends found each other on the Web site Meetup.com, which has helped create about 2,000 social groups in the suburbs of New York City in the last five years, according to Andres Glusman, a spokesman for the site.

The size of the groups ranges from a handful of people to hundreds, Mr. Glusman said. Many meet monthly.

In Trumbull, Conn., 30 pug owners come together to walk and talk. Over in Fairfield, a handful of vegetarians swap recipes at a meat-free restaurant. A dozen proud Subaru owners gather to talk engines and bodywork in Paramus, N.J. And a couple of amateur golfers who stash six-packs of beer in their carts hope to add to their number in White Plains.

Judging by the 3,500 topics currently represented on the five-year-old site, no interest is too narrow. Mah-jongg enthusiasts have found one another on the site, and so have marriage arrangers.

Meetup.com was credited with playing a huge role in helping to transform Howard Dean from a little-known governor to an early front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential campaign, when groups organized by his supporters proliferated on the site.

Over all, the more than 22,000 Meetup groups bring together 3 million people worldwide, Mr. Glusman said.

Other Web sites, including Craigslist, offer similar opportunities for people to get together, but Meetup’s strength is its focus on club-forming. Unlike dating sites, it unites broad clusters of people. And unlike MySpace and Friendster, it emphasizes the rewards of meeting in real time, face to face.

“You could try to accomplish something similar with Yahoo! Groups, but that’s primarily a mailing list,” Mr. Glusman said. “It doesn’t provide the local people, tools and training to organize an offline community group.”

In suburbs across the region, much of the Meetup activity revolves around singles mingling and stay-at-home moms arranging playgroups. The site indicates the number of members in each meetup, and the region’s largest, with 744 members, is the NJ Over 30, Over 40, Over 50, Sexy and Sassy group. It meets monthly at different restaurants and bars around the state.

“My hunch is that in large cities like New York, there are more established institutions helping people meet each other,” Mr. Glusman said. “In the suburbs, with the sprawl, you can see people every day in the grocery store but never know that they’re extremely passionate about flying or want to practice their Spanish. We’re probably more useful to people in the suburbs.”

Suzie Calo, 40, a bookkeeper and a former party planner from Eastchester, N.Y., has helped organize two Westchester County-based meetups: a ghost-tracking group, with 81 members and a divorce support group, which has 86 members. Ms. Calo said many people formally join groups by posting personal profiles but don’t necessarily show up at gatherings. The divorce group has about a dozen core members, she said, and the ghost trackers about half a dozen.

Meetup groups don’t cost anything to join, but organizers pay the site $12 to $19 a month, based on their specific Web needs. Ms. Calo said the value of the groups is the opportunity they offer to meet people with similar interests and in similar situations.

“In the divorce group, we’re there recommending lawyers and listening to each other’s Jerry Springer nightmares,” she said. “And the ghost trackers — I’ve had experiences with paranormal phenomenon, and so have the others. We get together at a diner, and we talk.”

Some organizers say the site has helped them promote causes.

“I was anxious to do something to elect a candidate,” said William Kransdorf, a 49-year-old lawyer who heads an 18-member group, the Essex County Barack Obama Meetup, which gathers monthly.

On a recent Tuesday night, 11 people showed up at the Goat Cafe in South Orange, N.J., to discuss Mr. Obama’s presidential chances. A couple of students from Seton Hall University and several men and women in their 30s and 40s attended.

“I had to get involved in this campaign,” Mr. Kransdorf said. “This meetup is just my way of doing it.”

On Long Island, the Web site has helped reinvent the potluck dinner. Pat Maiti, 54, who produces a cable television show called “A Taste of New York,” recently organized a gathering at her Syosset home for the Long Island Social Chef Dinner Party Meetup. Of the group’s 113 members, about 40 showed up with different dishes to share.

“I came tonight because I wanted to meet people and make connections,” said Gail Giunta, 37, the owner of a reiki massage studio. Ms. Giunta had traveled to Ms. Maiti’s house from her home in East Hampton.

Larry Katz, 42, an administrator at a medical imaging center from Fort Salonga, said the group draws a diverse crowd. “The food is great, but it’s also a very good way to meet interesting people,” he said.

The allure of simple friendship motivates many participants.

Every other week, 3 to 10 members of Andrea Berman’s New Haven French-language group meet over crepes at a cafe. “I’ve always been interested in language and culture, but this is also a way to socialize,” said Ms. Berman, a 36-year-old engineer. “For the people who come regularly, it’s a really nice feeling.”

One worth building on, by Meetup’s reckoning. On June 9 at a still-undisclosed field near White Plains, the Web site plans to hold its first NYC Suburb Meetup Olympics and barbecue.

“The idea is to pit Meetup groups against each other in fun and games,” Mr. Glusman said. “It’s going to be a big, fun picnic.”


Anyone for a Gathering of Introverts?

“At work they complain incessantly,” said Mr. Rosenzweig, 41, an editor at an environmental consulting firm who is wearing a polo shirt with spaceship insignia. His colleagues give him guff about the 2-foot-by-3-foot “Star Trek” poster he displays prominently. And at home in North Brunswick, he knows better than to greet neighbors with a Vulcan salute.

But once a month, Mr. Rosenzweig feels free to indulge his passion, when he gets together with other members of the Morris County New Jersey Star Trek Meetup at the Empire Diner in Parsippany. The group, which now has 39 members, gathers to talk TV and dissect its own home-produced “Star Trek” series.

Mr. Rosenzweig and his friends found each other on the Web site Meetup.com, which has helped create about 2,000 social groups in the suburbs of New York City in the last five years, according to Andres Glusman, a spokesman for the site.

The size of the groups ranges from a handful of people to hundreds, Mr. Glusman said. Many meet monthly.

In Trumbull, Conn., 30 pug owners come together to walk and talk. Over in Fairfield, a handful of vegetarians swap recipes at a meat-free restaurant. A dozen proud Subaru owners gather to talk engines and bodywork in Paramus, N.J. And a couple of amateur golfers who stash six-packs of beer in their carts hope to add to their number in White Plains.

Judging by the 3,500 topics currently represented on the five-year-old site, no interest is too narrow. Mah-jongg enthusiasts have found one another on the site, and so have marriage arrangers.

Meetup.com was credited with playing a huge role in helping to transform Howard Dean from a little-known governor to an early front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential campaign, when groups organized by his supporters proliferated on the site.

Over all, the more than 22,000 Meetup groups bring together 3 million people worldwide, Mr. Glusman said.

Other Web sites, including Craigslist, offer similar opportunities for people to get together, but Meetup’s strength is its focus on club-forming. Unlike dating sites, it unites broad clusters of people. And unlike MySpace and Friendster, it emphasizes the rewards of meeting in real time, face to face.

“You could try to accomplish something similar with Yahoo! Groups, but that’s primarily a mailing list,” Mr. Glusman said. “It doesn’t provide the local people, tools and training to organize an offline community group.”

In suburbs across the region, much of the Meetup activity revolves around singles mingling and stay-at-home moms arranging playgroups. The site indicates the number of members in each meetup, and the region’s largest, with 744 members, is the NJ Over 30, Over 40, Over 50, Sexy and Sassy group. It meets monthly at different restaurants and bars around the state.

“My hunch is that in large cities like New York, there are more established institutions helping people meet each other,” Mr. Glusman said. “In the suburbs, with the sprawl, you can see people every day in the grocery store but never know that they’re extremely passionate about flying or want to practice their Spanish. We’re probably more useful to people in the suburbs.”

Suzie Calo, 40, a bookkeeper and a former party planner from Eastchester, N.Y., has helped organize two Westchester County-based meetups: a ghost-tracking group, with 81 members and a divorce support group, which has 86 members. Ms. Calo said many people formally join groups by posting personal profiles but don’t necessarily show up at gatherings. The divorce group has about a dozen core members, she said, and the ghost trackers about half a dozen.

Meetup groups don’t cost anything to join, but organizers pay the site $12 to $19 a month, based on their specific Web needs. Ms. Calo said the value of the groups is the opportunity they offer to meet people with similar interests and in similar situations.

“In the divorce group, we’re there recommending lawyers and listening to each other’s Jerry Springer nightmares,” she said. “And the ghost trackers — I’ve had experiences with paranormal phenomenon, and so have the others. We get together at a diner, and we talk.”

Some organizers say the site has helped them promote causes.

“I was anxious to do something to elect a candidate,” said William Kransdorf, a 49-year-old lawyer who heads an 18-member group, the Essex County Barack Obama Meetup, which gathers monthly.

On a recent Tuesday night, 11 people showed up at the Goat Cafe in South Orange, N.J., to discuss Mr. Obama’s presidential chances. A couple of students from Seton Hall University and several men and women in their 30s and 40s attended.

“I had to get involved in this campaign,” Mr. Kransdorf said. “This meetup is just my way of doing it.”

On Long Island, the Web site has helped reinvent the potluck dinner. Pat Maiti, 54, who produces a cable television show called “A Taste of New York,” recently organized a gathering at her Syosset home for the Long Island Social Chef Dinner Party Meetup. Of the group’s 113 members, about 40 showed up with different dishes to share.

“I came tonight because I wanted to meet people and make connections,” said Gail Giunta, 37, the owner of a reiki massage studio. Ms. Giunta had traveled to Ms. Maiti’s house from her home in East Hampton.

Larry Katz, 42, an administrator at a medical imaging center from Fort Salonga, said the group draws a diverse crowd. “The food is great, but it’s also a very good way to meet interesting people,” he said.

The allure of simple friendship motivates many participants.

Every other week, 3 to 10 members of Andrea Berman’s New Haven French-language group meet over crepes at a cafe. “I’ve always been interested in language and culture, but this is also a way to socialize,” said Ms. Berman, a 36-year-old engineer. “For the people who come regularly, it’s a really nice feeling.”

One worth building on, by Meetup’s reckoning. On June 9 at a still-undisclosed field near White Plains, the Web site plans to hold its first NYC Suburb Meetup Olympics and barbecue.

“The idea is to pit Meetup groups against each other in fun and games,” Mr. Glusman said. “It’s going to be a big, fun picnic.”


Anyone for a Gathering of Introverts?

“At work they complain incessantly,” said Mr. Rosenzweig, 41, an editor at an environmental consulting firm who is wearing a polo shirt with spaceship insignia. His colleagues give him guff about the 2-foot-by-3-foot “Star Trek” poster he displays prominently. And at home in North Brunswick, he knows better than to greet neighbors with a Vulcan salute.

But once a month, Mr. Rosenzweig feels free to indulge his passion, when he gets together with other members of the Morris County New Jersey Star Trek Meetup at the Empire Diner in Parsippany. The group, which now has 39 members, gathers to talk TV and dissect its own home-produced “Star Trek” series.

Mr. Rosenzweig and his friends found each other on the Web site Meetup.com, which has helped create about 2,000 social groups in the suburbs of New York City in the last five years, according to Andres Glusman, a spokesman for the site.

The size of the groups ranges from a handful of people to hundreds, Mr. Glusman said. Many meet monthly.

In Trumbull, Conn., 30 pug owners come together to walk and talk. Over in Fairfield, a handful of vegetarians swap recipes at a meat-free restaurant. A dozen proud Subaru owners gather to talk engines and bodywork in Paramus, N.J. And a couple of amateur golfers who stash six-packs of beer in their carts hope to add to their number in White Plains.

Judging by the 3,500 topics currently represented on the five-year-old site, no interest is too narrow. Mah-jongg enthusiasts have found one another on the site, and so have marriage arrangers.

Meetup.com was credited with playing a huge role in helping to transform Howard Dean from a little-known governor to an early front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential campaign, when groups organized by his supporters proliferated on the site.

Over all, the more than 22,000 Meetup groups bring together 3 million people worldwide, Mr. Glusman said.

Other Web sites, including Craigslist, offer similar opportunities for people to get together, but Meetup’s strength is its focus on club-forming. Unlike dating sites, it unites broad clusters of people. And unlike MySpace and Friendster, it emphasizes the rewards of meeting in real time, face to face.

“You could try to accomplish something similar with Yahoo! Groups, but that’s primarily a mailing list,” Mr. Glusman said. “It doesn’t provide the local people, tools and training to organize an offline community group.”

In suburbs across the region, much of the Meetup activity revolves around singles mingling and stay-at-home moms arranging playgroups. The site indicates the number of members in each meetup, and the region’s largest, with 744 members, is the NJ Over 30, Over 40, Over 50, Sexy and Sassy group. It meets monthly at different restaurants and bars around the state.

“My hunch is that in large cities like New York, there are more established institutions helping people meet each other,” Mr. Glusman said. “In the suburbs, with the sprawl, you can see people every day in the grocery store but never know that they’re extremely passionate about flying or want to practice their Spanish. We’re probably more useful to people in the suburbs.”

Suzie Calo, 40, a bookkeeper and a former party planner from Eastchester, N.Y., has helped organize two Westchester County-based meetups: a ghost-tracking group, with 81 members and a divorce support group, which has 86 members. Ms. Calo said many people formally join groups by posting personal profiles but don’t necessarily show up at gatherings. The divorce group has about a dozen core members, she said, and the ghost trackers about half a dozen.

Meetup groups don’t cost anything to join, but organizers pay the site $12 to $19 a month, based on their specific Web needs. Ms. Calo said the value of the groups is the opportunity they offer to meet people with similar interests and in similar situations.

“In the divorce group, we’re there recommending lawyers and listening to each other’s Jerry Springer nightmares,” she said. “And the ghost trackers — I’ve had experiences with paranormal phenomenon, and so have the others. We get together at a diner, and we talk.”

Some organizers say the site has helped them promote causes.

“I was anxious to do something to elect a candidate,” said William Kransdorf, a 49-year-old lawyer who heads an 18-member group, the Essex County Barack Obama Meetup, which gathers monthly.

On a recent Tuesday night, 11 people showed up at the Goat Cafe in South Orange, N.J., to discuss Mr. Obama’s presidential chances. A couple of students from Seton Hall University and several men and women in their 30s and 40s attended.

“I had to get involved in this campaign,” Mr. Kransdorf said. “This meetup is just my way of doing it.”

On Long Island, the Web site has helped reinvent the potluck dinner. Pat Maiti, 54, who produces a cable television show called “A Taste of New York,” recently organized a gathering at her Syosset home for the Long Island Social Chef Dinner Party Meetup. Of the group’s 113 members, about 40 showed up with different dishes to share.

“I came tonight because I wanted to meet people and make connections,” said Gail Giunta, 37, the owner of a reiki massage studio. Ms. Giunta had traveled to Ms. Maiti’s house from her home in East Hampton.

Larry Katz, 42, an administrator at a medical imaging center from Fort Salonga, said the group draws a diverse crowd. “The food is great, but it’s also a very good way to meet interesting people,” he said.

The allure of simple friendship motivates many participants.

Every other week, 3 to 10 members of Andrea Berman’s New Haven French-language group meet over crepes at a cafe. “I’ve always been interested in language and culture, but this is also a way to socialize,” said Ms. Berman, a 36-year-old engineer. “For the people who come regularly, it’s a really nice feeling.”

One worth building on, by Meetup’s reckoning. On June 9 at a still-undisclosed field near White Plains, the Web site plans to hold its first NYC Suburb Meetup Olympics and barbecue.

“The idea is to pit Meetup groups against each other in fun and games,” Mr. Glusman said. “It’s going to be a big, fun picnic.”


Anyone for a Gathering of Introverts?

“At work they complain incessantly,” said Mr. Rosenzweig, 41, an editor at an environmental consulting firm who is wearing a polo shirt with spaceship insignia. His colleagues give him guff about the 2-foot-by-3-foot “Star Trek” poster he displays prominently. And at home in North Brunswick, he knows better than to greet neighbors with a Vulcan salute.

But once a month, Mr. Rosenzweig feels free to indulge his passion, when he gets together with other members of the Morris County New Jersey Star Trek Meetup at the Empire Diner in Parsippany. The group, which now has 39 members, gathers to talk TV and dissect its own home-produced “Star Trek” series.

Mr. Rosenzweig and his friends found each other on the Web site Meetup.com, which has helped create about 2,000 social groups in the suburbs of New York City in the last five years, according to Andres Glusman, a spokesman for the site.

The size of the groups ranges from a handful of people to hundreds, Mr. Glusman said. Many meet monthly.

In Trumbull, Conn., 30 pug owners come together to walk and talk. Over in Fairfield, a handful of vegetarians swap recipes at a meat-free restaurant. A dozen proud Subaru owners gather to talk engines and bodywork in Paramus, N.J. And a couple of amateur golfers who stash six-packs of beer in their carts hope to add to their number in White Plains.

Judging by the 3,500 topics currently represented on the five-year-old site, no interest is too narrow. Mah-jongg enthusiasts have found one another on the site, and so have marriage arrangers.

Meetup.com was credited with playing a huge role in helping to transform Howard Dean from a little-known governor to an early front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential campaign, when groups organized by his supporters proliferated on the site.

Over all, the more than 22,000 Meetup groups bring together 3 million people worldwide, Mr. Glusman said.

Other Web sites, including Craigslist, offer similar opportunities for people to get together, but Meetup’s strength is its focus on club-forming. Unlike dating sites, it unites broad clusters of people. And unlike MySpace and Friendster, it emphasizes the rewards of meeting in real time, face to face.

“You could try to accomplish something similar with Yahoo! Groups, but that’s primarily a mailing list,” Mr. Glusman said. “It doesn’t provide the local people, tools and training to organize an offline community group.”

In suburbs across the region, much of the Meetup activity revolves around singles mingling and stay-at-home moms arranging playgroups. The site indicates the number of members in each meetup, and the region’s largest, with 744 members, is the NJ Over 30, Over 40, Over 50, Sexy and Sassy group. It meets monthly at different restaurants and bars around the state.

“My hunch is that in large cities like New York, there are more established institutions helping people meet each other,” Mr. Glusman said. “In the suburbs, with the sprawl, you can see people every day in the grocery store but never know that they’re extremely passionate about flying or want to practice their Spanish. We’re probably more useful to people in the suburbs.”

Suzie Calo, 40, a bookkeeper and a former party planner from Eastchester, N.Y., has helped organize two Westchester County-based meetups: a ghost-tracking group, with 81 members and a divorce support group, which has 86 members. Ms. Calo said many people formally join groups by posting personal profiles but don’t necessarily show up at gatherings. The divorce group has about a dozen core members, she said, and the ghost trackers about half a dozen.

Meetup groups don’t cost anything to join, but organizers pay the site $12 to $19 a month, based on their specific Web needs. Ms. Calo said the value of the groups is the opportunity they offer to meet people with similar interests and in similar situations.

“In the divorce group, we’re there recommending lawyers and listening to each other’s Jerry Springer nightmares,” she said. “And the ghost trackers — I’ve had experiences with paranormal phenomenon, and so have the others. We get together at a diner, and we talk.”

Some organizers say the site has helped them promote causes.

“I was anxious to do something to elect a candidate,” said William Kransdorf, a 49-year-old lawyer who heads an 18-member group, the Essex County Barack Obama Meetup, which gathers monthly.

On a recent Tuesday night, 11 people showed up at the Goat Cafe in South Orange, N.J., to discuss Mr. Obama’s presidential chances. A couple of students from Seton Hall University and several men and women in their 30s and 40s attended.

“I had to get involved in this campaign,” Mr. Kransdorf said. “This meetup is just my way of doing it.”

On Long Island, the Web site has helped reinvent the potluck dinner. Pat Maiti, 54, who produces a cable television show called “A Taste of New York,” recently organized a gathering at her Syosset home for the Long Island Social Chef Dinner Party Meetup. Of the group’s 113 members, about 40 showed up with different dishes to share.

“I came tonight because I wanted to meet people and make connections,” said Gail Giunta, 37, the owner of a reiki massage studio. Ms. Giunta had traveled to Ms. Maiti’s house from her home in East Hampton.

Larry Katz, 42, an administrator at a medical imaging center from Fort Salonga, said the group draws a diverse crowd. “The food is great, but it’s also a very good way to meet interesting people,” he said.

The allure of simple friendship motivates many participants.

Every other week, 3 to 10 members of Andrea Berman’s New Haven French-language group meet over crepes at a cafe. “I’ve always been interested in language and culture, but this is also a way to socialize,” said Ms. Berman, a 36-year-old engineer. “For the people who come regularly, it’s a really nice feeling.”

One worth building on, by Meetup’s reckoning. On June 9 at a still-undisclosed field near White Plains, the Web site plans to hold its first NYC Suburb Meetup Olympics and barbecue.

“The idea is to pit Meetup groups against each other in fun and games,” Mr. Glusman said. “It’s going to be a big, fun picnic.”


Anyone for a Gathering of Introverts?

“At work they complain incessantly,” said Mr. Rosenzweig, 41, an editor at an environmental consulting firm who is wearing a polo shirt with spaceship insignia. His colleagues give him guff about the 2-foot-by-3-foot “Star Trek” poster he displays prominently. And at home in North Brunswick, he knows better than to greet neighbors with a Vulcan salute.

But once a month, Mr. Rosenzweig feels free to indulge his passion, when he gets together with other members of the Morris County New Jersey Star Trek Meetup at the Empire Diner in Parsippany. The group, which now has 39 members, gathers to talk TV and dissect its own home-produced “Star Trek” series.

Mr. Rosenzweig and his friends found each other on the Web site Meetup.com, which has helped create about 2,000 social groups in the suburbs of New York City in the last five years, according to Andres Glusman, a spokesman for the site.

The size of the groups ranges from a handful of people to hundreds, Mr. Glusman said. Many meet monthly.

In Trumbull, Conn., 30 pug owners come together to walk and talk. Over in Fairfield, a handful of vegetarians swap recipes at a meat-free restaurant. A dozen proud Subaru owners gather to talk engines and bodywork in Paramus, N.J. And a couple of amateur golfers who stash six-packs of beer in their carts hope to add to their number in White Plains.

Judging by the 3,500 topics currently represented on the five-year-old site, no interest is too narrow. Mah-jongg enthusiasts have found one another on the site, and so have marriage arrangers.

Meetup.com was credited with playing a huge role in helping to transform Howard Dean from a little-known governor to an early front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential campaign, when groups organized by his supporters proliferated on the site.

Over all, the more than 22,000 Meetup groups bring together 3 million people worldwide, Mr. Glusman said.

Other Web sites, including Craigslist, offer similar opportunities for people to get together, but Meetup’s strength is its focus on club-forming. Unlike dating sites, it unites broad clusters of people. And unlike MySpace and Friendster, it emphasizes the rewards of meeting in real time, face to face.

“You could try to accomplish something similar with Yahoo! Groups, but that’s primarily a mailing list,” Mr. Glusman said. “It doesn’t provide the local people, tools and training to organize an offline community group.”

In suburbs across the region, much of the Meetup activity revolves around singles mingling and stay-at-home moms arranging playgroups. The site indicates the number of members in each meetup, and the region’s largest, with 744 members, is the NJ Over 30, Over 40, Over 50, Sexy and Sassy group. It meets monthly at different restaurants and bars around the state.

“My hunch is that in large cities like New York, there are more established institutions helping people meet each other,” Mr. Glusman said. “In the suburbs, with the sprawl, you can see people every day in the grocery store but never know that they’re extremely passionate about flying or want to practice their Spanish. We’re probably more useful to people in the suburbs.”

Suzie Calo, 40, a bookkeeper and a former party planner from Eastchester, N.Y., has helped organize two Westchester County-based meetups: a ghost-tracking group, with 81 members and a divorce support group, which has 86 members. Ms. Calo said many people formally join groups by posting personal profiles but don’t necessarily show up at gatherings. The divorce group has about a dozen core members, she said, and the ghost trackers about half a dozen.

Meetup groups don’t cost anything to join, but organizers pay the site $12 to $19 a month, based on their specific Web needs. Ms. Calo said the value of the groups is the opportunity they offer to meet people with similar interests and in similar situations.

“In the divorce group, we’re there recommending lawyers and listening to each other’s Jerry Springer nightmares,” she said. “And the ghost trackers — I’ve had experiences with paranormal phenomenon, and so have the others. We get together at a diner, and we talk.”

Some organizers say the site has helped them promote causes.

“I was anxious to do something to elect a candidate,” said William Kransdorf, a 49-year-old lawyer who heads an 18-member group, the Essex County Barack Obama Meetup, which gathers monthly.

On a recent Tuesday night, 11 people showed up at the Goat Cafe in South Orange, N.J., to discuss Mr. Obama’s presidential chances. A couple of students from Seton Hall University and several men and women in their 30s and 40s attended.

“I had to get involved in this campaign,” Mr. Kransdorf said. “This meetup is just my way of doing it.”

On Long Island, the Web site has helped reinvent the potluck dinner. Pat Maiti, 54, who produces a cable television show called “A Taste of New York,” recently organized a gathering at her Syosset home for the Long Island Social Chef Dinner Party Meetup. Of the group’s 113 members, about 40 showed up with different dishes to share.

“I came tonight because I wanted to meet people and make connections,” said Gail Giunta, 37, the owner of a reiki massage studio. Ms. Giunta had traveled to Ms. Maiti’s house from her home in East Hampton.

Larry Katz, 42, an administrator at a medical imaging center from Fort Salonga, said the group draws a diverse crowd. “The food is great, but it’s also a very good way to meet interesting people,” he said.

The allure of simple friendship motivates many participants.

Every other week, 3 to 10 members of Andrea Berman’s New Haven French-language group meet over crepes at a cafe. “I’ve always been interested in language and culture, but this is also a way to socialize,” said Ms. Berman, a 36-year-old engineer. “For the people who come regularly, it’s a really nice feeling.”

One worth building on, by Meetup’s reckoning. On June 9 at a still-undisclosed field near White Plains, the Web site plans to hold its first NYC Suburb Meetup Olympics and barbecue.

“The idea is to pit Meetup groups against each other in fun and games,” Mr. Glusman said. “It’s going to be a big, fun picnic.”


Anyone for a Gathering of Introverts?

“At work they complain incessantly,” said Mr. Rosenzweig, 41, an editor at an environmental consulting firm who is wearing a polo shirt with spaceship insignia. His colleagues give him guff about the 2-foot-by-3-foot “Star Trek” poster he displays prominently. And at home in North Brunswick, he knows better than to greet neighbors with a Vulcan salute.

But once a month, Mr. Rosenzweig feels free to indulge his passion, when he gets together with other members of the Morris County New Jersey Star Trek Meetup at the Empire Diner in Parsippany. The group, which now has 39 members, gathers to talk TV and dissect its own home-produced “Star Trek” series.

Mr. Rosenzweig and his friends found each other on the Web site Meetup.com, which has helped create about 2,000 social groups in the suburbs of New York City in the last five years, according to Andres Glusman, a spokesman for the site.

The size of the groups ranges from a handful of people to hundreds, Mr. Glusman said. Many meet monthly.

In Trumbull, Conn., 30 pug owners come together to walk and talk. Over in Fairfield, a handful of vegetarians swap recipes at a meat-free restaurant. A dozen proud Subaru owners gather to talk engines and bodywork in Paramus, N.J. And a couple of amateur golfers who stash six-packs of beer in their carts hope to add to their number in White Plains.

Judging by the 3,500 topics currently represented on the five-year-old site, no interest is too narrow. Mah-jongg enthusiasts have found one another on the site, and so have marriage arrangers.

Meetup.com was credited with playing a huge role in helping to transform Howard Dean from a little-known governor to an early front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential campaign, when groups organized by his supporters proliferated on the site.

Over all, the more than 22,000 Meetup groups bring together 3 million people worldwide, Mr. Glusman said.

Other Web sites, including Craigslist, offer similar opportunities for people to get together, but Meetup’s strength is its focus on club-forming. Unlike dating sites, it unites broad clusters of people. And unlike MySpace and Friendster, it emphasizes the rewards of meeting in real time, face to face.

“You could try to accomplish something similar with Yahoo! Groups, but that’s primarily a mailing list,” Mr. Glusman said. “It doesn’t provide the local people, tools and training to organize an offline community group.”

In suburbs across the region, much of the Meetup activity revolves around singles mingling and stay-at-home moms arranging playgroups. The site indicates the number of members in each meetup, and the region’s largest, with 744 members, is the NJ Over 30, Over 40, Over 50, Sexy and Sassy group. It meets monthly at different restaurants and bars around the state.

“My hunch is that in large cities like New York, there are more established institutions helping people meet each other,” Mr. Glusman said. “In the suburbs, with the sprawl, you can see people every day in the grocery store but never know that they’re extremely passionate about flying or want to practice their Spanish. We’re probably more useful to people in the suburbs.”

Suzie Calo, 40, a bookkeeper and a former party planner from Eastchester, N.Y., has helped organize two Westchester County-based meetups: a ghost-tracking group, with 81 members and a divorce support group, which has 86 members. Ms. Calo said many people formally join groups by posting personal profiles but don’t necessarily show up at gatherings. The divorce group has about a dozen core members, she said, and the ghost trackers about half a dozen.

Meetup groups don’t cost anything to join, but organizers pay the site $12 to $19 a month, based on their specific Web needs. Ms. Calo said the value of the groups is the opportunity they offer to meet people with similar interests and in similar situations.

“In the divorce group, we’re there recommending lawyers and listening to each other’s Jerry Springer nightmares,” she said. “And the ghost trackers — I’ve had experiences with paranormal phenomenon, and so have the others. We get together at a diner, and we talk.”

Some organizers say the site has helped them promote causes.

“I was anxious to do something to elect a candidate,” said William Kransdorf, a 49-year-old lawyer who heads an 18-member group, the Essex County Barack Obama Meetup, which gathers monthly.

On a recent Tuesday night, 11 people showed up at the Goat Cafe in South Orange, N.J., to discuss Mr. Obama’s presidential chances. A couple of students from Seton Hall University and several men and women in their 30s and 40s attended.

“I had to get involved in this campaign,” Mr. Kransdorf said. “This meetup is just my way of doing it.”

On Long Island, the Web site has helped reinvent the potluck dinner. Pat Maiti, 54, who produces a cable television show called “A Taste of New York,” recently organized a gathering at her Syosset home for the Long Island Social Chef Dinner Party Meetup. Of the group’s 113 members, about 40 showed up with different dishes to share.

“I came tonight because I wanted to meet people and make connections,” said Gail Giunta, 37, the owner of a reiki massage studio. Ms. Giunta had traveled to Ms. Maiti’s house from her home in East Hampton.

Larry Katz, 42, an administrator at a medical imaging center from Fort Salonga, said the group draws a diverse crowd. “The food is great, but it’s also a very good way to meet interesting people,” he said.

The allure of simple friendship motivates many participants.

Every other week, 3 to 10 members of Andrea Berman’s New Haven French-language group meet over crepes at a cafe. “I’ve always been interested in language and culture, but this is also a way to socialize,” said Ms. Berman, a 36-year-old engineer. “For the people who come regularly, it’s a really nice feeling.”

One worth building on, by Meetup’s reckoning. On June 9 at a still-undisclosed field near White Plains, the Web site plans to hold its first NYC Suburb Meetup Olympics and barbecue.

“The idea is to pit Meetup groups against each other in fun and games,” Mr. Glusman said. “It’s going to be a big, fun picnic.”


Anyone for a Gathering of Introverts?

“At work they complain incessantly,” said Mr. Rosenzweig, 41, an editor at an environmental consulting firm who is wearing a polo shirt with spaceship insignia. His colleagues give him guff about the 2-foot-by-3-foot “Star Trek” poster he displays prominently. And at home in North Brunswick, he knows better than to greet neighbors with a Vulcan salute.

But once a month, Mr. Rosenzweig feels free to indulge his passion, when he gets together with other members of the Morris County New Jersey Star Trek Meetup at the Empire Diner in Parsippany. The group, which now has 39 members, gathers to talk TV and dissect its own home-produced “Star Trek” series.

Mr. Rosenzweig and his friends found each other on the Web site Meetup.com, which has helped create about 2,000 social groups in the suburbs of New York City in the last five years, according to Andres Glusman, a spokesman for the site.

The size of the groups ranges from a handful of people to hundreds, Mr. Glusman said. Many meet monthly.

In Trumbull, Conn., 30 pug owners come together to walk and talk. Over in Fairfield, a handful of vegetarians swap recipes at a meat-free restaurant. A dozen proud Subaru owners gather to talk engines and bodywork in Paramus, N.J. And a couple of amateur golfers who stash six-packs of beer in their carts hope to add to their number in White Plains.

Judging by the 3,500 topics currently represented on the five-year-old site, no interest is too narrow. Mah-jongg enthusiasts have found one another on the site, and so have marriage arrangers.

Meetup.com was credited with playing a huge role in helping to transform Howard Dean from a little-known governor to an early front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential campaign, when groups organized by his supporters proliferated on the site.

Over all, the more than 22,000 Meetup groups bring together 3 million people worldwide, Mr. Glusman said.

Other Web sites, including Craigslist, offer similar opportunities for people to get together, but Meetup’s strength is its focus on club-forming. Unlike dating sites, it unites broad clusters of people. And unlike MySpace and Friendster, it emphasizes the rewards of meeting in real time, face to face.

“You could try to accomplish something similar with Yahoo! Groups, but that’s primarily a mailing list,” Mr. Glusman said. “It doesn’t provide the local people, tools and training to organize an offline community group.”

In suburbs across the region, much of the Meetup activity revolves around singles mingling and stay-at-home moms arranging playgroups. The site indicates the number of members in each meetup, and the region’s largest, with 744 members, is the NJ Over 30, Over 40, Over 50, Sexy and Sassy group. It meets monthly at different restaurants and bars around the state.

“My hunch is that in large cities like New York, there are more established institutions helping people meet each other,” Mr. Glusman said. “In the suburbs, with the sprawl, you can see people every day in the grocery store but never know that they’re extremely passionate about flying or want to practice their Spanish. We’re probably more useful to people in the suburbs.”

Suzie Calo, 40, a bookkeeper and a former party planner from Eastchester, N.Y., has helped organize two Westchester County-based meetups: a ghost-tracking group, with 81 members and a divorce support group, which has 86 members. Ms. Calo said many people formally join groups by posting personal profiles but don’t necessarily show up at gatherings. The divorce group has about a dozen core members, she said, and the ghost trackers about half a dozen.

Meetup groups don’t cost anything to join, but organizers pay the site $12 to $19 a month, based on their specific Web needs. Ms. Calo said the value of the groups is the opportunity they offer to meet people with similar interests and in similar situations.

“In the divorce group, we’re there recommending lawyers and listening to each other’s Jerry Springer nightmares,” she said. “And the ghost trackers — I’ve had experiences with paranormal phenomenon, and so have the others. We get together at a diner, and we talk.”

Some organizers say the site has helped them promote causes.

“I was anxious to do something to elect a candidate,” said William Kransdorf, a 49-year-old lawyer who heads an 18-member group, the Essex County Barack Obama Meetup, which gathers monthly.

On a recent Tuesday night, 11 people showed up at the Goat Cafe in South Orange, N.J., to discuss Mr. Obama’s presidential chances. A couple of students from Seton Hall University and several men and women in their 30s and 40s attended.

“I had to get involved in this campaign,” Mr. Kransdorf said. “This meetup is just my way of doing it.”

On Long Island, the Web site has helped reinvent the potluck dinner. Pat Maiti, 54, who produces a cable television show called “A Taste of New York,” recently organized a gathering at her Syosset home for the Long Island Social Chef Dinner Party Meetup. Of the group’s 113 members, about 40 showed up with different dishes to share.

“I came tonight because I wanted to meet people and make connections,” said Gail Giunta, 37, the owner of a reiki massage studio. Ms. Giunta had traveled to Ms. Maiti’s house from her home in East Hampton.

Larry Katz, 42, an administrator at a medical imaging center from Fort Salonga, said the group draws a diverse crowd. “The food is great, but it’s also a very good way to meet interesting people,” he said.

The allure of simple friendship motivates many participants.

Every other week, 3 to 10 members of Andrea Berman’s New Haven French-language group meet over crepes at a cafe. “I’ve always been interested in language and culture, but this is also a way to socialize,” said Ms. Berman, a 36-year-old engineer. “For the people who come regularly, it’s a really nice feeling.”

One worth building on, by Meetup’s reckoning. On June 9 at a still-undisclosed field near White Plains, the Web site plans to hold its first NYC Suburb Meetup Olympics and barbecue.

“The idea is to pit Meetup groups against each other in fun and games,” Mr. Glusman said. “It’s going to be a big, fun picnic.”


Anyone for a Gathering of Introverts?

“At work they complain incessantly,” said Mr. Rosenzweig, 41, an editor at an environmental consulting firm who is wearing a polo shirt with spaceship insignia. His colleagues give him guff about the 2-foot-by-3-foot “Star Trek” poster he displays prominently. And at home in North Brunswick, he knows better than to greet neighbors with a Vulcan salute.

But once a month, Mr. Rosenzweig feels free to indulge his passion, when he gets together with other members of the Morris County New Jersey Star Trek Meetup at the Empire Diner in Parsippany. The group, which now has 39 members, gathers to talk TV and dissect its own home-produced “Star Trek” series.

Mr. Rosenzweig and his friends found each other on the Web site Meetup.com, which has helped create about 2,000 social groups in the suburbs of New York City in the last five years, according to Andres Glusman, a spokesman for the site.

The size of the groups ranges from a handful of people to hundreds, Mr. Glusman said. Many meet monthly.

In Trumbull, Conn., 30 pug owners come together to walk and talk. Over in Fairfield, a handful of vegetarians swap recipes at a meat-free restaurant. A dozen proud Subaru owners gather to talk engines and bodywork in Paramus, N.J. And a couple of amateur golfers who stash six-packs of beer in their carts hope to add to their number in White Plains.

Judging by the 3,500 topics currently represented on the five-year-old site, no interest is too narrow. Mah-jongg enthusiasts have found one another on the site, and so have marriage arrangers.

Meetup.com was credited with playing a huge role in helping to transform Howard Dean from a little-known governor to an early front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential campaign, when groups organized by his supporters proliferated on the site.

Over all, the more than 22,000 Meetup groups bring together 3 million people worldwide, Mr. Glusman said.

Other Web sites, including Craigslist, offer similar opportunities for people to get together, but Meetup’s strength is its focus on club-forming. Unlike dating sites, it unites broad clusters of people. And unlike MySpace and Friendster, it emphasizes the rewards of meeting in real time, face to face.

“You could try to accomplish something similar with Yahoo! Groups, but that’s primarily a mailing list,” Mr. Glusman said. “It doesn’t provide the local people, tools and training to organize an offline community group.”

In suburbs across the region, much of the Meetup activity revolves around singles mingling and stay-at-home moms arranging playgroups. The site indicates the number of members in each meetup, and the region’s largest, with 744 members, is the NJ Over 30, Over 40, Over 50, Sexy and Sassy group. It meets monthly at different restaurants and bars around the state.

“My hunch is that in large cities like New York, there are more established institutions helping people meet each other,” Mr. Glusman said. “In the suburbs, with the sprawl, you can see people every day in the grocery store but never know that they’re extremely passionate about flying or want to practice their Spanish. We’re probably more useful to people in the suburbs.”

Suzie Calo, 40, a bookkeeper and a former party planner from Eastchester, N.Y., has helped organize two Westchester County-based meetups: a ghost-tracking group, with 81 members and a divorce support group, which has 86 members. Ms. Calo said many people formally join groups by posting personal profiles but don’t necessarily show up at gatherings. The divorce group has about a dozen core members, she said, and the ghost trackers about half a dozen.

Meetup groups don’t cost anything to join, but organizers pay the site $12 to $19 a month, based on their specific Web needs. Ms. Calo said the value of the groups is the opportunity they offer to meet people with similar interests and in similar situations.

“In the divorce group, we’re there recommending lawyers and listening to each other’s Jerry Springer nightmares,” she said. “And the ghost trackers — I’ve had experiences with paranormal phenomenon, and so have the others. We get together at a diner, and we talk.”

Some organizers say the site has helped them promote causes.

“I was anxious to do something to elect a candidate,” said William Kransdorf, a 49-year-old lawyer who heads an 18-member group, the Essex County Barack Obama Meetup, which gathers monthly.

On a recent Tuesday night, 11 people showed up at the Goat Cafe in South Orange, N.J., to discuss Mr. Obama’s presidential chances. A couple of students from Seton Hall University and several men and women in their 30s and 40s attended.

“I had to get involved in this campaign,” Mr. Kransdorf said. “This meetup is just my way of doing it.”

On Long Island, the Web site has helped reinvent the potluck dinner. Pat Maiti, 54, who produces a cable television show called “A Taste of New York,” recently organized a gathering at her Syosset home for the Long Island Social Chef Dinner Party Meetup. Of the group’s 113 members, about 40 showed up with different dishes to share.

“I came tonight because I wanted to meet people and make connections,” said Gail Giunta, 37, the owner of a reiki massage studio. Ms. Giunta had traveled to Ms. Maiti’s house from her home in East Hampton.

Larry Katz, 42, an administrator at a medical imaging center from Fort Salonga, said the group draws a diverse crowd. “The food is great, but it’s also a very good way to meet interesting people,” he said.

The allure of simple friendship motivates many participants.

Every other week, 3 to 10 members of Andrea Berman’s New Haven French-language group meet over crepes at a cafe. “I’ve always been interested in language and culture, but this is also a way to socialize,” said Ms. Berman, a 36-year-old engineer. “For the people who come regularly, it’s a really nice feeling.”

One worth building on, by Meetup’s reckoning. On June 9 at a still-undisclosed field near White Plains, the Web site plans to hold its first NYC Suburb Meetup Olympics and barbecue.

“The idea is to pit Meetup groups against each other in fun and games,” Mr. Glusman said. “It’s going to be a big, fun picnic.”


Watch the video: Mike Colamecos Real Food MISSY u0026 PATTI (June 2022).


Comments:

  1. Murray

    These are for!

  2. Phaethon

    Bravo, excellent idea

  3. Polydorus

    Hello, the layout of the blog for some reason is dispersed in the firefox: (Maybe you can fix it?

  4. Naftalie

    In it something is. Thanks for an explanation.

  5. Padgett

    Quickly consistent))))



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