If you really want to whet your students’ appetites, you have to offer recipes and dishes that they’d want to cook themselves and make sure that there’s a friendly environment in your classroom or kitchen.
The atmosphere you create in your cooking classes or culinary workshops should make everyone want to attend and your first ever class with a new student might be your only opportunity to impress them.
Put your apron on because we’re going to give you a few tips and tricks for teaching cooking classes! If you dream of opening your own cooking school someday, you're going to have know how to prepare both classes and delicious dishes.
How Do You Effectively Teach Cooking?
Preparing a good cooking class starts here. Before you start, you’re going to have to ask yourself what kind of cooking you’re best at and what you’re going to teach your students.
Are you an expert at Japanese cooking or making sushi? A pastry chef or a baking expert? Are you going to teach easy everyday recipes? Will you need to adopt a hands on approach? What are the ingredients you're going to use? Are you going to follow a cookbook or use your own recipes?
You'll need to think long and hard about your lessons. If you work with other chefs in a culinary school or as part of a teachers' network, you’ll be able to offer a broad range of classes, something a cooking teacher on their own wouldn’t be able to do.
Once you’ve worked out what you’re doing and budding chefs are knocking on your door, you’re going to have to work out exactly how you’re going to teach your students in a fun and engaging way. While your students won't expect you to behave like you were in a culinary school, you'll have to find the balance between how much they enjoy your lessons and how much they learn.
You have to instil your students with a sense of confidence. Not every student will learn at exactly the same speed and they won’t all respond to your advice and teaching in the same way.
You’ll obviously need teaching skills in order to help your students understand your classes and you’ll need to adapt each class to the student. At the end of the day, you want to give your students a better understanding of nutrition and the culinary arts, an opportunity to try tasty new foods and cooking methods, and to gain fundamental cooking skills.
Discover our best tips for teaching appealing cooking classes!
Pay Attention to Time Management
During your cooking classes, time management is essential. You can’t plan a dish that takes an hour to cook if your lessons only last half an hour. That said, you could always get students to chop the vegetables before the class or bring fresh pasta (which takes less time to cook), for example.
To get the most out of each lesson, you should make your recipe for your friends or family members before you teach the class to a paying student.
Consider timing yourself so you can see how long each part of the lesson takes and how long you’ll need for the whole lesson or workshop.
Keep in mind that making a simple dish might not be enough for a cooking class. While your cooking knowledge is useful, the whole lesson can’t rely on it. Teaching skills, like explaining what to do and transferring all that knowledge you have, are also really important.
If you're teaching kids cooking, you'll have to allocate time to showing them the basics of kitchen safety, for example. If you're running a team building exercise, keep in mind that your students probably have other things to do once they're finished. Ensure you finish on time.
Testing will help you see which concepts work and give you an opportunity to better organise your lessons. You can also get feedback from friends and family and perfect your methodology. In fact, our closest friends and family members can often be far more brutally honest than strangers.
Some advice, like avoiding “lulls”, might seem obvious once somebody’s pointed them out. You could use the time things are cooking to answer students’ questions, for example. You should outline your objectives at the beginning of the lesson so that you don’t drown in questions when you’re preparing the food. Don't forget to establish the rules so you can keep control of your class, too.
Why not read our complete guide to preparing a cooking lesson?
End the Cooking Class with a Bit of Fun
You should make sure that your students enjoy every one of your classes. This is especially important for kids classes since they probably won't even be thinking about whether or not they learnt a new skill. Cooking with kids can be a completely different beast to cooking with teens or adults.
Students should learn new skills, gain confidence in the kitchen, and have an enjoyable learning experience. Every class should end with a bit of fun so that students want to keep coming back.
- Think about setting aside some time for the students to try the food that they prepared during the class. When it comes to cooking, tasting the food is one of the best ways to get better at cooking and see what each student should be focusing on. We cook so we can eat, after all, don’t we?
- You should always be honest with your students. If one of them got something wrong, lying to them won’t help them get better. If they’re novices, they probably won’t have noticed it themselves. If you have to give them some feedback, you should stay positive and tell them where they’re going wrong (how long they cooked it for, seasoning, dressing, etc.). Remind them that a chef can always improve and there's no harm in making mistakes.
- After you’ve tasted the food, you can spend the last few minutes of the class to have a friendly chat and an exchange of ideas between the students. Since not everyone in your class is going to be an expert chef, they’ll each have their different tastes and ways of cooking. This is also a good way to establish a rapport with your students. Ask them which parts of your lesson they liked and which parts they didn’t.
You need to consider how long you’re going to spend doing this during your lessons so that your lesson doesn’t finish late since both you and your students might have something to do afterwards. Make sure you stick to your lesson plan and schedule as the teacher of the class.
Discover some of the best ways to plan a cooking class!
Create a Bond with Your Students
Don’t forget that your cooking classes go well beyond the classes themselves. If you want your students’ loyalty, you’ll have to go the extra mile outside of class.
Whether you’ve given a bakery class, basic cooking class, wine pairing class, or gourmet cuisine workshop, why not give your students a summary with the main ingredient and the cooking techniques they’ll be focusing on in their next lesson?
You could also send the recipes and the techniques they need to focus on for the next class via email. This is good for enthusiastic students who like to prep before lessons.
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You can also create your own teaching resources and send your students videos showing the techniques you’ve taught or are going to teach. This gives enthusiastic students an opportunity to learn to cook a recipe from scratch on their own (since you won't always be there to help them). Your students might find videos on cooking poultry, baking cakes and pies, or knife skills really useful.
You have so many different ways to create a bond with your students: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can all be useful ways to give your students additional learning resources and menus they might be interested in.
You can also make your culinary classes and workshops more interesting by offering prizes to the best students and making the classes more appealing.
While there’s no such thing as a perfect class since every student is different, your classes should be engaging and enjoyable.
- Firstly, try out teaching techniques and recipes with people you know before using them in classes and workshops with paying students.
- Preparation is key. Planning ahead can help you manage your time better in each of your lessons.
- Make effective use of the lulls in your lessons while things cook so that your students get the most out of every minute with you.
- You should use the end of your lessons for exchanging ideas. Give your students a chance to share their homemade creations and useful information. Get the students to eat their food, get feedback on it from other students, and try and work out for themselves what a recipe might need. While a demonstration detailing where they went wrong could be useful, most students will learn how to cook if you guide them towards discovery rather than directly telling them.
- Once the class is over, you should maintain a link with your students. You can share feedback and practical tips with them over the internet. You can also create your own resources or use existing teaching resources to help students study between classes and prepare themselves for the next lesson. You could even set up a virtual cooking school (on a blog or website) where your students can help each other to learn.
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