We received a question from one of our listservs, "Which cooking equipment do you recommend for food demos and for using your recipes?"
Here is our opinion and advice:
1) You need to use what consumers are using in their own kitchens so they walk away with an 'I can do this' attitude. While a copper gas stove is an entertaining visual on the Food Network, a simple one is better for teaching a practical class. Use what they already have and what you are used to using yourself!
2) Simple is just better for speaking and working in front of a live audience in a demo kitchen atmosphere. By simple we mean variety and ease of use. You don't want to have counters overloaded or complicated gadgets.
Where would we go to buy equipment and small wares? Walmart or other discount stores, department stores on sale or a local restaurant supply store. Ebay and Amazon also have great deals and you can read other user's reviews there. We have picked up very nice sets of knives and All Clad cookware on eBay and end-of-year sales at our local Williams and Sonoma have yielded prices that are .10 to .20 on the dollar for serving pieces!
2 pieces are in our 'must-have' category for cooking demos and just cooking in general - most people have them:
- Stove top burner - can be portable with just 2 burners and use either electricity or propane
- Microwave - this is a must for us and we have done demos for 3,000 using just a microwave - you can cook anything in it - even pasta in boiling water if you must - we have even baked a cake in one! And we actually prefer to have 2 microwaves in a demo kitchen (and even our own kitchen) so you can keep moving and keep the audience interested.
But most important is that it is easy to cook vegetables and even fruits in a microwave!
- Vegetables cook fast and with little water so they retain better color, texture and nutrients.
- There is less mess when using a microwave for steaming and you can often cook, serve and store the items in the same glass dish.
- We recommend a microwave with a fish/chicken setting and an auto-defrost setting. Ours has settings for popcorn, potatoes and auto-defrost in addition to the chicken and fish. We use it all the time to cook very moist and tasty fish and chicken dishes - they cook in less than 5 minutes!
But there are 2 more pieces of cooking equipment that are important for teaching healthier cooking, in our opinion:
- Crockpot - because you can demo beans and soups - those cook without attendance time and make it easy for today's time-pressed consumer to prepare these items on a regular basis
- A rice cooker - we find this item makes cooking brown rice and many rice dishes so easy that people are inclined to do them over and over and over. We also have a rice dish that includes lentils and it goes great in a rice cooker! And you can cook other whole grains in it
Finally, here are a few more small things you shouldn't forget:
-New cutting boards and wet paper towels to stick them to the table - we prefer white plastic cutting boards that can go in the dishwasher when done; you might need more than one if you are working with raw meat or poultry
-Containers, cups and bags to put premeasured ingredients - no one wants to watch you measure everything - have it ready to go
-Multiple cooking utensils, measuring cups and spoons - multiple is mentioned so you don't cross contaminate raw and cooked
-Platters for display and cups/plates/napkins/utensils for tastes
And our 'nice-to-have' equipment list for really wonderful meals and finishing touches:
- toaster oven - to roast asparagus, nuts, whole grain bread, oven fried potatoes, tomatoes (great for a demo kitchen that doesn't have an oven)
-food processor - for salsa, roasted marinara sauce and more
- mixer - if you are going to be baking or making mashed potatoes
- hand held immersion blender - wonderful for creamy vegetable soups
Cooking Demo II - our best recipes - 30 lessons and over 200 pages plus a PowerPoint on how to modify recipes:
25 ingredients, 15 meals - DVD - a great concept and you could make all 15 meals in one day:
If you have a demo question - just ask us -
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.