Teaching cooking classes can produce an annual income stream of $40,000, with a minimal starting budget, according to "Entrepreneur" magazine. You can teach small groups or offer individual lessons. The more engaging and effective your instruction, the greater the likelihood that students will return for future programs.
Setting up the Business
Decide if you are going to offer home-based classes or partner with a cookware or other food-oriented business. Partnering may expand your opportunities -- for example, it might give you access to a large demonstration kitchen -- but a home-based business offers more control over your schedule and curriculum. If you choose to work as an independent provider, contact local governmental agencies to determine zoning laws and licensing requirements. If you anticipate class sizes of more than three or four people, speak with your neighbors to head off potential traffic and parking concerns.
Designing Your Curriculum
Decide whether to focus on basic menus or specialized gourmet offerings. Select the format for the classes, although this can change depending on the dishes being prepared. You may want to work with a single individual at a time, to offer small group demonstration classes or to provide hands-on experiences for your students. Finally, choose the actual recipes you plan to share. Ideally, you should teach students several complementary dishes so they can see how the different foods fit together. If that’s not feasible, provide a written menu that features the dish you are preparing, with suggested accompaniments. Include some classic dishes in your repertoire, but branch out with ingredients or dishes that may be less familiar.
Preparing for Class
To prepare for class, you'll need to shop for the required ingredients and gather recipes and other handouts. Handouts should include tips for substitutions and accompaniments, ideas for keeping costs down and nutritional information, if you have it. Create an outline for the lesson, keeping things simple and allowing time for questions, either throughout the lesson or at the end. While you don’t necessarily need to have a formal script, having an outline keeps you on track and helps you remember details that are second nature to you. You might even give students an illustrated, step-by-step guide for preparing the dish, which helps when they get back home to cook on their own. Pull utensils and equipment together and organize it in your classroom, placing items within easy reach, in the order in which you plan to use them.
Teaching the Class
Begin with videos of related techniques to engage your student or students. For returning students, provide a few minutes at the beginning of class or following a break for them to share their successes with preparing dishes from earlier lessons. As you work through the steps of the recipe, give students “value added” information about various ingredients, including interesting tidbits about the history or other uses of a particular ingredient. For example, if you are poaching pears, you might describe varieties of the fruit and explain which work best for different dishes. As much as possible, allow students to actively participate in the cooking. If you don’t have workstations for everyone, rotate through the class, allowing each person to perform different tasks. Remind students about handwashing and other sanitation practices. Show students how to present the finished product, and end the class with announcements about what the participants need to bring to the next class.
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