Back in the day, a restaurant’s only form of competition was a similar establishment right down the block. But with delivery apps and home meal kits, restaurants are faced with even more challenges when separating their business from the rest. The idea of hosting a cooking class at your restaurant could be a great form of promotion because it caters to those who like to eat out, the “do-it-yourselfers,” and the experience-driven crowd. Not to mention, 2020 is supposed to bring even more attention to healthy eating in the restaurant business, so a cooking class is a great way to showcase your fresh ingredients.

Why Host a Cooking Class?

It’s no secret that your restaurant’s chefs know your rave-worthy menu like the back of their hands by now. But giving up the reigns just a little bit can do wonders for attracting new customers, and letting your repeats in on how you make those Sunday brunch pancakes so darn fluffy. Restaurant cooking classes can be held as a promotional event (think Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day), or on a regular basis. That being said, it’s never a bad idea to use a holiday as a way to test out a cooking class at your restaurant. If it’s a hit, make it a weekly thing! 

How Do Restaurants Host Cooking Classes?

The best part about hosting a class is that the structure is completely up to you. For restaurants with more complex menus, it’s common to host a demonstration class. This way, guests can watch their food get made, taste-test a couple of ingredients, and sip on an adult beverage throughout the process. However, many restaurants take it one step further by fully engaging customers in the food preparation and cooking routine. Sushi making classes are a popular example of this, but with the correct setup and plenty of working stations, you can create a class around any type of cuisine. 

If you plan to allow your customers to cook when hosting a class, the first step is narrowing down a specific dish or type of food to make. For restaurants that only serve one cuisine, this will be easy. Then you can strategize the evening game plan. How involved will guests be in the cooking process? Is their finished product something they can devour in-house, or will you provide doggie bags for meals so they have the treat to take home? The last step is to spread the word about your upcoming event(s)! Use Instagram, Facebook, and your website to let customers know what’s in store at your restaurant and how they can sign up for the class. 

Take Precaution: Allowing Guests to Get Their Hands Dirty

Restaurant liability is a factor that needs to be considered when deciding to host a cooking class at your restaurant. You most likely already have restaurant insurance that covers the safety of your workers on the job, but how does this change when you include guests as chefs? When inviting customers to a hands-on cooking class, a liability agreement that they can sign must be drawn up to avoid putting your restaurant at risk. Aside from that, take precautionary measures to minimize the chances of any sort of accident. Leave large cooking equipment and complex tools to the professionals by allowing guests to simply observe that portion of the cooking process. There will still be plenty of other food prep, styling and tasting to be done!