Step-by-step guide on how to create a successful virtual cooking class

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As physical and social distance remains a priority in order to reduce the spread of the virus, more and more work and activity is beginning to transition into the virtual space, enabling people to stay connected with one another. We at Sociavore want to help make that transition as smooth as possible by providing you with the tools to establish and maintain an engaging online presence.

The hospitality industry has been dealt numerous challenges, forcing so many chefs and small business owners to make difficult decisions that were forever unimaginable. Maintaining customer engagement has become more important than ever, to ensure revenues stay afloat. 

We have been able to retain that connection with some of our favourite businesses through virtual cooking classes. We’ve found that it’s a great way to stay in touch with your customers and vice-versa, and keep the community engaged with one another, an activity in which there seems to be a shortage of these days. 

Virtual cooking is likely a new concept to most, but not to worry! It’s pretty simple. There are just a few important things to keep in mind in order to run a successful cooking class. We’ve outlined a step-by-step guide on how to get some of the ideas you’ve been cooking up in the past couple months on to the plates of your customers through a virtual cooking class

Organizing Your Event

Sociavore is here to help you transition your memorable guest experience into the virtual space. Organization is key to running a successful virtual cooking class, and that requires identifying a few different factors before you go about promoting your event. 

  • Preparation is important. It encourages a smooth operation all the way through. First, you must identify who your audience is, and what they would like to see from you. It’s important to outline your target audience, and what it is you’re trying to convey to that audience, over and above the recipe itself. Examples to consider are whether you want to develop home-cooking skills for casual cooks, or advanced techniques for enthusiasts, or simply a fun and engaging workshop for families. When it comes to planning your menu, consider a few dishes that your audience would love, but may never cook for themselves at home. 
  • Sell and manage. Make it easy for your customers to register for your class by using our Ticketing and Events feature. User-friendly tools that can help you promote, sell, and manage your attendees on your website with no additional fees. Once you have created an event on your website, advertise your event through social media and email marketing. Virtual cooking classes make for great gift ideas for birthdays and other special celebrations. Keep in mind that you’re not geographically limited, anyone and anywhere can join your class.
  • One less step. Make it even easier for your customers by providing them with a meal kit via curbside pickup, which can include a range of fresh meat and produce, stocks, canned goods, and pre-made sauces or pastes.  

Ready the Tech

While the skills, techniques, and set of principles you are trying to convey to your audience remain the same, the method in which this is being done has shifted, requiring you to be savvy with new technology.

  • Familiarize yourself with the required tools to teach your class. Zoom calls are becoming the new norm, so it would be beneficial to know how to communicate effectively through the app. Getting acquainted with the technology will help you assist others with any technical difficulties. Here’s how to schedule and manage your virtual classes via Zoom. The free version of the app only offers the first 4o minutes for free so we recommend going premium.
  • Set up your angles. Everyone’s kitchen is different, and at home, you don’t necessarily have the luxury of large space and a camera crew, so make sure you’ve tested out in advance where you will be placing your device. It can be a difference-maker in terms of getting your message or technique across. Having someone else teaching the class with you in their kitchen can provide dynamic camera angles throughout the class to enhance the learning experience. 
  • Sort out any other technical issues. While internet cut-outs may be out of your control at times, it’s important to have a stable connection throughout the class. Test out your video and audio in advance, you’re going to need both of those! 

From the Get-Go

Ultimately, engagement is the most important factor in running a successful virtual cooking class. You want to catch the attention of your audience right away, but you also want to maintain their attention throughout the class, especially if it’s running for 2-3 hours.  

  • Housekeeping. We’re all going through the transition phase of learning how to do things virtually, and that’s natural. Start the class 10-15 minutes early to allow people to settle in, get acquainted with one another, and solve any technical difficulties. Ask if everyone’s set up with the required tools and ingredients and if they are in a comfortable space without too much background noise before moving on. Muting the audience once you’ve begun will help remove disruptive noises for the rest of the class. Anyone can chime in at any point if they want to ask you or someone else in the class a question by simply unmuting, or using the chat function.  
  • Make it interactive. Try and learn the names of everyone in your audience. Once you’re in the flow of preparing the dish, give them little shout outs throughout the class like “great job” or “chop finer”. The 1 on 1 interaction helps keep your audience engaged. Creating these meaningful interactions will go a long way. 
  • Less is more. Be concise in your instruction, and try to convey your knowledge, rather than overloading your audience with information. Try and make the most out of common ingredients as we don’t necessarily have the ability to access certain ingredients whenever we want right now, so it’s important to work with everyday ingredients and encourage your audience to work with what they have when cooking at home. 
  • Keep it simple. The most important piece of advice we can give you is to be yourself. For the first time, your audience gets to watch you in action in your own natural environment. If something doesn’t go to plan, roll with it because the realities of home cooking are that everyone makes mistakes! Your audience will appreciate it and may reduce any frustration if their food doesn’t quite look like yours. 
  • Pace yourself. If you’ve done face-to-face classes or workshops before, you may need to up the pace of your class to keep your audience engaged.

The Culinary Studio in Kitchener, ON has been hosting some wonderful virtual cooking classes over the past few weeks, here’s a snapshot from their first one.

Go The Extra Step

The fun doesn’t have to start and end with the cooking. After all, you’ve put lots of effort into creating an atmosphere in your restaurant. There are few ways you can keep the vibe going!

  • Suggest wine or drink pairings. Complement the delicious meal you make with your audience by suggesting some local beer or wine. You could also collaborate with local wineries and breweries by adding an option to include their product in your ingredient box. 
  • Create a Spotify playlist. Set the mood for your class by creating a Spotify playlist. What’s cooking without a little music! You can link it to your audience beforehand, they don’t require a premium version to listen!
  • Include extra ingredients. Provide extras of certain ingredients so that your audience can make the dish again for themselves or their families. Making the delicious recipe(s) on their own will leave them wanting more cooking classes! Record your virtual cooking class and send it out to your audience afterward for future reference. 
  • Include a bonus recipe afterward. The extra ingredients could also make room for a different recipe. Challenge your audience to use the skills they’ve picked up in the class to make a bonus recipe. Encourage them to send photos in for a chance to win tickets to your next class.

Follow-Up

After the class is finished, reach out to your audience via email and extend your thank-yous, encouraging any questions your audience may have, and to now provide them with the recipe, that way there’s less emphasis on following a recipe during the class itself. It can also be a great opportunity to promote future classes. Sociavore Ticketing allows you to create event series for recurring events, making it easier for your customers to view the different types of events you plan on hosting at a glance. 

If you have any questions or need additional help setting up your virtual cooking class, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Sociavore Team

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