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Foster Engagement with In-Restaurant Cooking Lessons

Spring and summer can be a tricky time for restaurants; on the one hand, the warmer weather encourages people to leave their homes more often, which can lead to a natural increase in business. On the other hand, many areas tend to lose patrons in the warmer months as tourists go on vacation to other places. This does mean that spring and summer can be a good time of year to begin engaging with the local community, although of course, engagement is something that restaurants should be cognizant of and working towards year-round. One of the more innovative and unexpected ways that your restaurant or catering operation can foster that engagement is through cooking lessons and demonstrations; with a few good restaurant supplies and a little bit of planning, you can create an event that will keep people coming in.

It can seem counterintuitive to teach the general public tricks of the trade behind your dishes, but they are an excellent way to not only keep people informed but also increase their appreciation of what it is that goes on behind the scenes. Cooking demonstrations and lessons give your chefs or bakers the opportunity to show off their skills for an appreciative audience, giving them peace of mind and fulfilling their curiosity. Cooking classes also give customers a great experience to associate with your brand, which they can take to friends and acquaintances to increase brand recognition in the community. With more and more people becoming health conscious, it’s also a way to showcase the quality of ingredients that your operation uses.

If you do decide to go about offering cooking classes or demonstrations, the first central question to answer is what format to use. The two basic types to use are a lecture-based lesson or a hands-on experience. Of course, a key factor in that decision will be the space and resources that you have available for the event; a cramped kitchen does not make for a lot of space to get hands-on, and without access to tools or restaurant supplies needed for the endeavor, it can easily get out of hand. A lecture-style class allows customers to sit back, relax, and watch as the chef explains step-by-step the process of making a key dish, generally while sipping wine or other drinks, and ends with sampling the dish. Hands-on classes, obviously, allow customers to actually duplicate the dish themselves, to the best of their abilities, under the careful guidance of the chef.

The other questions to consider are: how often should you hold such events, how many people should you allow to participate, and how much to charge for the event. These, of course, will all vary on a lot of factors. To be practical it’s a good idea to offer the lesson or demonstration on a one-time basis to begin with, and see what the response to it is; you can also use that test case to figure out whether a certain format needs to be tweaked moving forward. From that point, you can set a fairly regular schedule of events either once or twice a month, weekly, or around major holidays. For price, it’s a more-or-less simple matter of looking at what you plan to serve, the quantity that you’ll need--based on how many participants there will be--and whether or not to include snacks or drinks in the event. In addition, of course, a well-known chef will command a much higher price for admission than one who isn’t known at all. On the question of how many to admit, the main criteria will of course be how much space you have and what kind of restaurant supplies you can purchase or otherwise make available for use for the demonstration or class.

While it may seem like a good deal of effort, hosting a cooking class or demonstration can be an excellent way to engage with the community around you, and bring more people into your restaurant or generate more clients for your catering business. With a little bit of planning, a suitable concept, and a few key purchases from a reputable restaurant supply store, you can create events that will bring people to your business to learn, and keep them coming back not just to discover more tricks of the trade but also to eat and enjoy the food you have on the menu outside of what you’re teaching. Consider too that it makes for an excellent opportunity for social media marketing--Instagram-worthy pictures and Facebook posts about how much fun your event was are practically guaranteed to bring more people into your business.

2018-05-21 00:00:00
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