Have you considered doing a cooking demo? Don’t feel overwhelmed! Cooking demonstrations may seem daunting, but they’re a great way to show clients how to cook a healthy meal. Here is a step by step guide to planning your first cooking demo.
1. Find out how many people you’re cooking for.
It’s important to know how many people you’ll be making samples for and what kind of space you’ll be working in so you can plan accordingly. I recommend an audience of no more than 20 unless you have a professional show kitchen setup available to you.
2. Find out what kind of space you’ll be working in.
It’s also critical to be aware of the space you’ll be working in. Will everyone be able to see what you’re doing? Is the demo in a kitchen, or better yet, a demo kitchen with overhead mirrors?
3. Find out what equipment will be available to you.
Find out if you will have access to a refrigerator, sink (very important!), countertop or table, oven, stove, microwave, blender, etc. Based on the equipment available to you, you can plan the recipes you want to demonstrate.
4. Find out what additional equipment you’ll be able to bring in.
Depending on the location of your demo, you might be able to bring in some of your own cooking equipment. It’s nice to have some portable equipment available to you if you plan on doing cooking demonstrations on a regular basis. I have a blender, slow cooker, food processor, toaster oven, rice cooker, and induction cooktop with pots and pans that all come in handy depending on the type of demonstration I’m doing.
5. Find out what your audience wants to learn.
It’s good to know what your audience is interested in learning. Are they interested in practicing basic knife skills? Are they intimidated by the idea of healthy cooking? Do they want to see some quick breakfast meals prepped in real time? The possibilities abound, but it’s very helpful to choose recipes based on what your class will find most beneficial.
6. Find out how much time you’ll have.
Clearly, time will be a huge factor in the recipes you choose to demonstrate. I recommend having 30-60 minutes available for the class.
7. Find out who will be responsible for purchasing food, paper plates, napkins, and plastic silverware that you’ll need. Set a fee for the class and budget for the ingredients.
You don’t want to leave any of the details for after the demo. It’s important to find out what you’ll be reimbursed for and who will be doing the shopping. I strongly recommend that you are the one responsible for doing to grocery shopping and asked to be reimbursed after. There’s nothing worse than showing up on the day of your cooking demo to find that some ingredients are missing or incorrect! Base your fee on the amount of time you will dedicate to planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up. Don’t sell yourself short by only charging what you would for an hour of your time. There’s a lot of work outside of the demo itself!
8. Figure out which recipe(s) you want to make.
Use answers to the previous questions to direct the recipes you will demonstrate for your class. Choose recipes that use a limited number of ingredients and that you are confident you can make well. It’s very important to practice ahead of time to make sure they taste good and that you can prepare them in the amount of time you have for the class. For an hour long class, you can probably plan to make 3 different items start to finish.
9. Practice ahead of time!
To finalize your recipes, practice making them at home and make adjustments as needed. Time yourself and consider what you will talk about as you go through each step of the process. It’s nice to have some talking points about what you’re doing and why you’re using the ingredients you chose. Is there a special nutritional benefit? Is there a trick to prepping the item you’re making? How do you know it’s ready? Practice cooking and talking at the same time.
10. Make a checklist of EVERYTHING you will need to bring so you don’t forget anything!
Don’t forget your ingredients in a cooler, knives, dish towels, cutting boards, measuring cups & spoons, spices, cooking oil, and any other knick-knacks you might forget in the rush of cooking demo day.
10. Depending on time restrictions and audience size, make samples ahead of time.
The morning of or night before your class, you may need to prepare all your samples or do some prep work to make good use of your time in the class. For example, I’ve done a 15 minute cooking demo showing students how to make an easy stir fry. Since rice takes longer than that to cook, I set the rice cooker ahead of time so the only things I needed to make during the class were the protein (scrambled egg) and sautéed vegetables (broccoli and tomato).
I’m doing a couple of cooking demos this week. I used to get very nervous about them, but now that I’ve had some practice and the process is more streamlined, the classes are something I look forward to immensely! I’d love to host a hands-on cooking workshop and/or present a video recording of meal preparation. Hopefully those will be things you can look forward to seeing from Karolina’s Kitchen in the near future!