I gave my friend Abbey an afternoon of cooking lessons for Christmas last year. She cashed in her gift last weekend and we had a fantastic time planning, shopping, prepping and cooking for a small group of friends. Here's a few things I learned from my experience:
- A handmade certificate or card, as opposed to a casual verbal offer, is a nice way to present the gift. And set the date for the class right away as it's easy to forget.
- Have a discussion on what your friend would like to learn a few days before the actual class so you have time to make a rough plan and gather recipes. Also, it's nice to leave behind copies of the recipes you are using, especially if you've scribbled your notes and substitutions and ideas on them.
- Meet up early in the day for tea or coffee and to finalize the menu. Make up the shipping list, head out to the stores. For people who don't cook much, these steps can be a lot of fun and informative. How do you shop for a ripe melon? How do you know how much chicken to buy for 8 people? What do you do when the store is out of arugula?
- Back at home (it can be your kitchen or theirs) be sure to let your student do the cooking. Most people learn best by actually doing the task at hand, so step aside. You can hover, but your role is to be a guide and a support. Remember to share your thinking with them: why you chose fresh herbs instead of dried, or added sugar here or salt there.
- Depending on their familiarity with cooking, a demonstration of a few knife skills is always appreciated. And be sure to leave them with a few secret ingredients or special tricks!