With a growing interest in the slow food movement, tons of us are getting better at crafting artisan quality foods and beverages. As a chef, farmer, bartender, or even a self taught brew master you have something valuable to pass on to others. We all have a need to learn, and once we have learned, there is a tendency to share the information in kind. People around you might very well want to learn the techniques you have perfected in your culinary adventures.
Finding your subject
There are a few things you want to consider when planning your class that will help make things easier. Making sure you select a topic that you are an expert in is key. If you just made your very first batch of mead last week, it may take a while for you to master enough knowledge to pass along. You find your own adaptations for how to do things as you go along and sometimes these happy accidents are what makes the final product truly outstanding.
Once you have decided what you are going to teach you will need to decide where. If at all possible, it’s best to teach in a space you are extremely familiar with. The home court advantage will really make it easier for you to move and speak freely while demonstrating for your students. Knowing where to find a measuring cup or teaspoon can make the difference between flan or flunk.
Invite friends and family over when you plan on making your famous apple pie. This is a great way to get your feet wet and practice with a more forgiving student body. Just because you want to share your skills and knowledge with others doesn’t mean it has to be a formal affair. Sharing your craft can be just as rewarding when it’s one on one as when it’s in a large group, so don’t be afraid to try it.
Honing your craft
Once a few classes have been added to your resume you can start to step up your game. You’ll be a better teacher once you’re comfortably relying on instinct, rather than sticking to a lesson plan. With that said, being organized will make all the difference when teaching a group of strangers. Finding the balance is important.
Regardless of where you are with your classes, these tips should be helpful in running them smoothly.
* Use well tested recipes or technique that you are comfortable with.
* Go through the steps and write a lesson plan for your class.
* Type up your recipes and have copies ready for your students. Compare your recipe with two or more examples. This will help ensure it is easy to follow.
* Have a clear direction for your class. Is it a demonstration or “hands-on”?
* Make sure you are realistic about the number of pupils you can teach at once. Start small and build from there.
* Create a check list of ingredients and triple check it against your recipe/lesson plan.
* Do as much prep work as you can prior to the class while leaving enough work for you to share with your students. If you are cooking a more complicated dish and/or a large quantity, things like pre-chopping veggies can really make things go smoothly. You can always demonstrate a small quantity and have your pupils try too.
* Pre-measure all of your ingredients and have them ready to go in separate containers. This will help when you are cooking the dish and you will be less likely to miss something. Check the ingredients against recipe as well.
* Socialize with the class before you start take the time to ease into things. This will relax everyone and make them comfortable with one another.
* Taste everything with the class as you go and when possible include eating what you have created together at the end. A meal should be enjoyed in a group and is a wonderful reward for a job well done.
Above and beyond all else, the most important thing to remember is to have fun. Genuine enthusiasm and joy shows every one of our pupils what you are really trying to teach. Loving what you are doing and taking your time to make sure people are comfortable is key. Helping others learn something also teaches you a lot in the process, you might find yourself growing in ways you may not have expected. And, most importantly, don’t forget to feed your students!
In conclusion, if the desire to teach is coursing through your veins, give it a shot! Keep the old-world culinary methods alive by passing on the knowledge to others, just like its been done for centuries. Here’s to us!
Want to attend a fun and informative class in your area? Check out these great classes listed on Brown Paper Tickets!
Select Saturdays, November 16th – December 14th | 2013 Tamale Making Classes – Seattle, Washington
Have you always wanted to learn how to make tamales? Now is your chance to learn from a master tamalera! Classes are generally held monthly on select Saturdays from 10 AM – 12:30 PM. Class fee: $75 per person per class – includes recipe and one dozen uncooked tamales. Class fees go to support Centro De La Raza’s Senior Nutrition & Wellness Program that provides balanced daily congregate meals, daily social and educational activities, exercise classes three times a week, and delivered meals to homebound seniors each week.
Saturday, November 16th | Blackbird Farm Cooking Class – Smithfield, Rhode Island
People often ask about cooking pasture-raised meats, so Blackbird Farm’s resident chef and food writer/photographer David Dadekian of Eat Drink RI teaches cooking classes in the farmhouse kitchen at the Farm. Classes cover preparing several cuts of meat, along with side dishes created from local farmers market ingredients. There’s plenty of wine and great conversation with farm owner Ann Marie. Each class will cover different meats and dishes so please join in for more than one class.
Saturday, November 16th | Food Mechanic Workshop – Shermans Dale, Pennsylvania
Tanya is a passionate foodie, cook and nutrition consultant; Wes is a knowledgeable mechanic with years of experience. Together, they love great food, reliable cars and helping people become informed consumers. They want to share their knowledge with you in a fun, applicable and hands-on kind of way. In their Food Mechanic Workshops you’ll learn how to keep yourself and your car healthy and running smoothly.
Saturday, November 16th | Homebrewing for Beginners – Kansas City, Missouri
The class is on a Saturday, beginning at 3 PM. Attendees will learn the critical part of boiling, adding hops, chilling, sanitizing, and pitching yeast. The class will also learn how to bottle a 5 gallon batch of beer (sugar and yeast dosing, sanitizing bottles, crimping crowns and bottle conditioning). Each participant takes home beers for bottle conditioning at home. Students also take home a detailed 2-page outline, and will be confident to begin brewing at home.
Sunday, November 17th | Holiday Hosting – Brunch Cooking Class – Middleton, Wisconsin
Holiday house guests? Join Bowen Close and Otehlia Cassidy for a fun, entertaining, delicious class featuring brunch recipes for your next guests or holiday party. They’ll help you prepare a brunch feast perfect for stress-free entertaining, and offer delicious drink ideas.
Sunday, November 17th | Kraut, Kimchi & Kombucha with Happy Girl Kitchen Co. – Sausalito, California
In this workshop, dive into the wonderful world of pickles and fermented foods! Co-founder Jordan Champagne is very excited to share new techniques and ideas. The class begins with a one-hour introductory talk and tasting of topics covering food safety, pH scale, preserving food and flavor construction. Through discussion, tastings and hands-on preparation, you learn how to create and care for these living vegetable ferments and nourishing tonics of fermented foods.
Sunday, November 17th | Sex on the Table – Aphrodisiac Cooking Class NYC – New York, New York
At Sex on the Table you’ll receive a hands-on cooking lesson from award winning ChefFed, where you’ll learn to work with unique aphrodisiacs that not only seduce your palate but also your nose, eyes, ears, hands, and (most importantly) your mind. Swiss-born ChefFed is a chef without borders. After working in some of the best kitchens in Switzerland, San Francisco, and Spain, he has become a master at delivering a new world of sensations to the palate.
Monday, November 18th | Unsung: Fall Fruit – San Francisco, California
Many cultures consider the persimmon a divine fruit. It is prized for its sweet, earthy, floral taste, versatility, healing properties and striking beauty. And yet people have a lot of questions about the persimmon. Fuyu vs. Hachiya? To peel or not to peel? Raw or cooked? Sweet or savory? Join Program Director Michelle McKenzie for this informative and inspiring demonstration, using what may be fall’s most undervalued and misunderstood fruit.
Tuesday, November 19th | Cooking Class for the Gluten Free Locavore – Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Come gather for an evening of great food, like-minded company and lively discussion! All of the ingredients will be organic, gluten-free, local (in exception of wine, nuts or other specialty items) and animal goods will be coming from fully pastured/ organic local farms.
Tuesday, November 26th | Seattle Thai Culinary Experience – Seattle, Washington
Immerse yourself in this intensive course in the Thai culinary arts and boot your Thai cooking skills to life. Pranee designs the menus and lessons to help you establish and deepen your Thai culinary insights for a lifelong investment in Thai cooking with a know-how from ingredients, to cooking method and cultural wisdom. There will be sit-down lunch at the end of the classes.Recipes are included.