Have you thought about teaching your own cooking lessons? Do your friends and family often tell you what a great cook you are? Do you have a passion for both cooking and teaching?
If you know a lot about cooking and teaching and want to share that culinary knowledge with others, you're eligible to become a teacher and start teaching private cooking tutorials to aspiring chefs and those in the industry.
In this article, we’re going to go over the most important aspects of preparing private cooking lessons, finding students who want to be taught how to cook or are embarking on an internship or culinary career, and becoming a better educator. This is how to become a successful private cooking tutor.
How Do You Prepare a Cooking Class?
The first step to preparing a cooking class is to work out exactly what kind of cooking class or workshop you have the skills for. While you don’t need to be the chef of year, have any cooking qualifications, degrees, or a diploma, or be a master of the culinary arts, if you want to become a teacher, you can’t teach cooking without any knowledge of the subject. When it comes to private cooking instruction, your best credentials are the classes you teach, and what your students (who are effectively your employer) say about you. You need to ask yourself a few questions before you decide on the types of class you’re going to teach:
- What type of cuisine do you want to focus on (British, Italian, French, Asian, etc.)?
- Will you teach your students at their house, your house, a cookery workshop, or a culinary institute?
- What do you want to specialise in? It can be quite difficult to offer a huge range of different cooking styles. Think long and hard about what a student would get out of your lessons.
- What is it about you that makes you different to the other tutors offering cooking classes? Do you offer classes for those wanting to work in the food service industry, catering, or hospitality industry? Do you help those applying to culinary schools or those starting a culinary career?
Since cooking is vocational, you'll probably want to adopt a hands on approach and have your students doing purely practical exercises using a good mix of different cooking methods. However, you might have to integrate some theory into your lessons and maybe even restaurant management, depending on the classes you're teaching. There are plenty of options available to those wanting to teach different cooking classes privately. There are three main types of classes you can teach:
- General classes focusing on a theme like avoiding waste, cooking workshops for children, cooking with seasonal products, or making a meal on a budget.
- Technical cooking classes on the advanced cooking techniques you'll use in the kitchen like knife skills. These classes will either be for those applying to a school, qualified chefs who are continuing their training, or those looking to get into the profession.
- Classes focusing on cooking a certain dish or cooking with a certain ingredient. The focus of these types of class could be something like sushi, cooking for certain dietary requirements, or focusing on certain types of baking and pastry.
The flow between classes is also important. You’ll also need to think about how long your classes are going to be, what utensils and tools you’re going to need, and the learning objectives for your students (you could even put together your own gourmet curriculum or base it on a cookbook that all your students will refer to). There are other elements that you’ll also need to consider so that you can effectively teach your students. You’ll need to think about how much you’re going to charge for the cooking class, how many students you’re going to teach per class, and where your classes are going to take place. Are you going to teach in your kitchen, at your students' houses, or in a dedicated lab (similar to what you might be familiar with from your secondary school classes)? You should also think about the different topics you’re going to cover and the topics you like teaching. It’s important that you enjoy teaching as much as your students enjoy your cooking classes.
How Do You Teach an Entertaining Cooking Class?
Now that you know the finer details of your cooking class, you need to consider how you’re going to make your class engaging and interesting. Just telling your students what they need to do isn’t enough. You need to ensure that they enjoy attending your classes and that they feel that the time they spend with you is worth the money they’re paying you. There are a few important things you’ll have to consider in order to do this:
- Time management. You can’t teach without having prepared your lesson and without being aware of how much time you have to teach it. We recommend doing a dry run of your classes with some of your friends and family members. You can also get honest feedback from them and work out how you can improve your lessons.
- When it comes to time management, you should make it clear at the start what the plan is. You should let students know that they can ask questions during lulls or when food is cooking so that they don’t lose any prep time. You can also use quieter moments (like when chopping vegetables) to share tips and tricks or hold a quick question and answer session.
- You should also focus on how you’re going to create a rapport with your students and how you’re going to wind down each lesson in a fun and friendly way. Let everyone talk about what they find difficult and share what they struggle with. These kinds of exercises can be really useful for both the student mentioning it and the other students in the class. It’s also a good opportunity for you to learn what aspects might need to be covered in more depth thanks to the feedback from your students.
- Finally, you have to let your students taste their creations or take them home at the end of the lesson so their friends and family can try it.
By following this advice, you should be able to teach exciting cooking lessons more engaging and interesting and, most importantly, make your students want to come back to another lesson. You can also reward students for their loyalty by giving them discounts for booking several sessions at once or prizes for the best students. Your students will be happy to recommend you to their friends and family, too!
How Do You Make a Cooking Class Appealing?
To make students interested in your cooking classes, you need to offer something special. You can differentiate yourself with the types of lessons you teach but also in the way you teach these lessons. If you’re teaching classes that are exactly the same as all the other classes you’ve been to, don’t be surprised if your students don’t come back. You should offer cooking classes that are useful, original, and something that a chef couldn't get at a cooking school. For example:
- Simplify popular homemade dishes.
- Offer baking classes with healthier ingredients for those wanting to eat better.
- Offer originals recipes like risotto with pistachio so that students can learn to cook dishes they’ve never heard of. You could even help students make their own menus (if they have the skills).
- If you’re a bit of a wine connoisseur, you could also offer a wine-tasting workshop and give them advice on pairing wines with their meals.
As you’ve probably understood, in order to make your cooking classes more appealing and get good tutoring jobs, you should think about what will give you an advantage over the other tutors offering classes. Make your differences your strengths. Finally, make sure that the enjoyment of the classes is also there outside of them. Maintain an online presence (on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) and offer extra resources and recipes to your students between classes and maintain a rapport with them. In short:
- To become a cooking tutor, you need to have a good knowledge of cooking. However, you don’t need any actual qualifications, a particular certification, or even have worked at a culinary school to teach private cooking tutorials.
- Your success depends on whether or not your lessons meet your students’ (and the market’s) expectations and on your own skills as both a cook and a teacher.
- Don’t fall into the trap of trying to do too many different types of classes. A Jack of all trades is a master of none. When was the last time you went to a restaurant that did a Sunday roast, sushi, and fajitas? Whether you teach food preparation, pastry arts, or common culinary skills, don't try to teach it all.
- Are you going to teach absolute beginners, intermediate, or advanced levels? Are you going to teach students how to make main courses or desserts? You need to alternative between general classes, technical classes, and classes that focus on a particular dish or ingredient so that your classes don’t become boring.
- Finally, you need to create a friendly environment in the kitchen or classroom. In addition to showing people how to cook, you want them to have a good time in your classes. After your lessons, you should keep in touch with students via a cooking blog or by sharing recipes.
- Or you can try online tutoring jobs and teach through Skype and online tutorials and videos.
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