Personal chef as budget choice? What do you think?

Ahh, Tuesdays. It may be the beginning of the work week, but living in Portland I get to wake up to the food section of the Oregonian and get my morning foodie fix. This week I was attracted by the enormous photo of families laughing together in a kitchen. "The New Portland Potluck" blared the headline. Fun!

Turns out the "New Portland Potluck" is not potluck at all, but a crafty way to keep one family's personal chef from raising her prices; they offered a weekly dinner to their neighbors, only $25 per family plus groceries. A bargain, right?

I spent the first several hours of the day angry over the fact that (a) people would call a regular dinner party with a personal chef a "potluck" and (b) that the writer of the story justified such a questionable financial choice -- charging your neighbors for coming over for dinner -- by noting that it was cheaper than eating out at a restaurant. Then I started to wonder if I was a little off-base in my mental ranting; an infrequent meal out at a neighborhood trendy brewpub for my family of five can cost $50 or more.

I'm still not cool with charging your friends to come to dinner (and if I'm going to have a "potluck," I'm going to enjoy the best part of a potluck; preparing something with love for friends and sharing in the discovery of great family recipes and techniques). But I've decided it's not a totally dumb financial move, especially if you have more control over the ingredients. What do you think? Are "post-modern potlucks" where you bill your buddies a waste of cash or good money sense?
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