Monday, 5 March 2012
Making a good Cooking Class GREAT!
For the past couple of years, I have now been on both sides of the kitchen table (so to speak), both as a cooking class participant and instructor and so I thought of writing a few recommendations on how to get the most out of any cooking class you take. These are also principles that I try to follow when giving cooking classes (which hopefully my students will attest to being a positive experience!).
1. Type of Class
Typically, most cooking classes are offered either as hands on or in a demonstration format. Which one you choose is really a personal choice on whether you wish to watch someone do the cooking or want to get stuck in yourself. It also depends on whether you are attending a public class or having a private class for a celebration. I think what is more important is the size of the class. The smaller the class, the more benefits each student will get from the class. You naturally have more opportunity to ask questions and to get fully engaged in the class. An ideal class size, in my opinion, should be 6-8 depending on the facilities and resources available.
2. What to take
There are three essentials to take with you. First, take your partner, relative or a friend! Classes are so much more fun if you take someone else. Second, take notes too. Most classes should give you recipes after but you may wish to take down notes on techniques or other advice offered by the instructor. Finally, take some containers to go. Whether you eat the meal at the class or not, take a little bit home with you to have the next day. Most meals taste even better the next day and this will allow you to consolidate what you learnt in the class and really absorb the textures and flavours of the dishes.
3. Learning something new
A cooking class should not just be about learning new dishes or getting new recipes but there should be at least between 3-5 things that you learn throughout the class which will resonate with you. This will be the real value of the class. If you are asked to fill out a feedback form, think of whether you did learn a handful of things you did not expect to or know before and which you will easily remember beyond the class. I am always keen to find out what people want to get out of the class at the beginning so that I can try and ensure I meet their expectations.
I only put this one in as I did experience a class where time keeping was pretty poor and it meant that we did not see everything that was being made which was a real shame. With multiple dishes going on, the class should be well timed so no one dish is rushed and every student has ample time to digest how it is cooked. That said, it is better that a class overruns a little than be rushed to keep strictly to the allocated time. There should also be plenty of time to ask questions. It is your class so make sure you get as much out of it as possible.
5. That little bit extra
What will make you take another class with the same company or instructor? Excellent food is probably quite high up on the list, rapport with the instructor (especially if it is a celebrity chef!) is huge as are the educational and fun elements but it is usually the littlest things that make a difference. A little gift, a returning customer incentive or wine pairing ideas are all great ways the class provider can leave a lingering impression but they also serve to do a good job at making you feel valued!
6. Gratitude or Gratuity?
Depending on what the etiquette is in the country in which you are taking a cooking class, you may be asked to consider leaving a gratuity. I cannot speak for all instructors but for me, gratitude and positive feedback is more important. After all, it is my mission to getting more people to live a healthier and tastier life with spices so if the class is going well, so is the mission!
Learn it! Cook it! Love it!
If you have any other ideas to share, please leave me a comment!
If you are interested in taking any of the cooking classes that Spice Sanctuary offers, please click here for more details.