15 Tips For Smooth Cooking Demos
- Make a list of your demo kitchen equipment and plan recipes that can be done accordingly. That might mean a full kitchen, just a microwave, or a cutting board. If you have the power you can always use an air fryer or Instapot! But also keep in mind the needs of your audience. It doesn't make sense to use a lot of expensive equipment if they don't have it at home. Try to replicate what will help your audience and keep it more simple and easy.
- Find a lot of recipes or dishes that appeal to a wide audience from vegan to meat-eater to urban foodie to picky and simple. Be mindful of budget. Make a Pinterest board to assemble your ideas and that will give you ideas for presentation as well as a good variety to choose from.
- Practice all recipes several times until you have them memorized. Note the changes needed.
- Make a list of everything you need from the store and have enough on hand.
- Measure all ingredients and make everything ahead of time. The audience should never wait long on any step. They don't want to watch you measure long lists of items. And no one wants to sit through extended cooking or baking. Put the raw one in the oven then take out one you baked ahead of time. Think of each item in this way. If you don't have time get the audience to help you. Always wash hands first of course!
- Test your presentation technology. Whether it is a laptop and projector, microphone, or virtual on Zoom, give it a dry run.
- Get to the demo kitchen early and turn on all the equipment. Find the trash and have a handwashing station. Be ready.
- Keep a sense of humor!
- Fill in your show with helpful information and advice. Show them new food products that help them save time. Talk about the ingredients that you used in your dishes.
- Have an assistant to help monitor the microwave and stove so you can concentrate on your presentation and questions. If you can’t have a hired one, find a volunteer from the audience, promising them a sample!
- Show how a finished dish should look on the plate for a great visual. Give great presentation tips such as sprinkling with chopped herbs or parmesan and using colors of veggies and fruits.
- For great audience participation, encourage questions at the end while your assistant is dishing up samples. They will be captive while waiting for their goodies and this adds a lot to your presentation. Encourage the audience to share tips and answer each other’s questions where applicable.
- Best dishes to demo: one-pot rice dishes, ethnic favorites, vegan stir-fries, healthy remakes of audience favorites, something you make all the time, whole grains they might not have tried, oven-fried fries, a simple fruit dessert, and seasonal favorites.
- Provide handouts with recipes, cooking tips, and ingredient substitutions for the audience to follow.
- Last but not least, confidence is the KEY to success in any cooking demo - practice the demo several times before going on stage with it.
BONUS tip: If you are doing the demo virtually it can be fun to send out the recipe ahead of time and host virtual cooking along on zoom!
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Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.