Food Demo Success: Learn the Ins & Outs
Welcome to part 2 of the cooking series: Food Demos. Food demos focus on show and tell and do not generally involve active cooking participation of audience members. Food demos can be performed in grocery stores, expos, or studios. Need a successful way to educate people on how to use specific food products? The food demo is your answer.
How to set up a successful food demo:
#1. Get Organized. Decide on a theme and find the perfect recipe. Make an ingredient and utensil list. Practice the recipe at home to make sure you have all the utensils you will need during the event, informs Kara Behlke, RD, LD, Hy-Vee dietitian and expert TV and grocery store food demonstrator. Behlke also recommends creating a designated cooking tote to have on hand for use during all food demos which contains all the essential food prep utensils (peeler, grater, knives, etc), as well as serving plates and table cloths.
#2. Have A Script. Know what message you’d like to send and be ready but flexible. Having a script helps, but be ready for anything when you are performing for live TV or audiences, explains Cindy Kleckner, RD, LD, co-author, Hypertension Cookbook for Dummies, and Adjunct Faculty Member at Collin College for Hospitality Management & Culinary Arts.
#3. Simplicity Is Key. Behlke advises making nutritious foods fun, tasty, and simple. Sometimes people get turned off by the term “healthy” recipes and are less likely to try the recipe because they may think it won’t be flavorful. Instead, focus on taste and appearance as well as combining familiar foods with more adventurous foods and flavors.
#4. Tell A Story. Kleckner states to engage the audience by incorporating some fun food facts or history or telling a foodie story in order to bring people in. “If you want to learn about a culture, dive in mouth first” and tell the story about your experience with the food, affirms Kleckner.
#5. Prep Your Food. Make sure to have all your food prepped and in its own mini bowls and containers so that when you are demoing the food, it is easily available. Also make sure to have the demoed recipe prepped and cooked in different stages for showing the audience, asserts both Behlke and Kleckner.
Watch out for these challenges:
#1. Charge Appropriately! Kleckner informs how labor intensive food demos can be from planning, preparing, and practicing the recipe to actually performing the recipe live. Due to how much time and effort goes into a simple food demo, make sure to charge enough to cover all time costs.
#2. Food Safety. It is important to keep food at the right temperatures when transporting food to a demo or during a demo reports Behlke. Sometimes the demonstration can last a few hours, so making sure you have the right food temps is important.
#3. Food Styling. Both Behlke and Kleckner agree about the importance of the food looking good. Food can look unappealing if sitting around for a long time. Sauces can congeal, greens can wilt, so make sure the food looks fresh even after all the time spent sitting in its’ containers. “People eat with their eyes,” emphasizes Behlke, so use brightly colored platters and spray foods with oils to make them shine.
Top Successful Secrets:
If doing a grocery store food demo, gather all the products and ingredients so that shoppers do not have to go all over the store to find them, tells Behlke. Bundle the ingredients together in a bag with a set price. Guacamole and salsa kits are popular and easy recipes. You can get a store employee to help you move products or make these price-fix ingredient bags.
Bring as many props as you can think of. The more the merrier. Props help the table look inviting and stylish. Also, have samples of the food to give producers or members of the audience because tasting can be a good selling point when exposing people to new and different foods. Taste is the final test of healthy cooking, states Kleckner.
The overall goal is to have fun and inspire people to cook your dish. Bon appétit!