With large social gatherings being put to a halt due to COVID-19, corporations and families are looking for ways to get everyone together so they can catch up and enjoy meals. Virtual cook-alongs hosted by catering companies or restaurants provide your clients with the ability to participate in a fun activity while interacting with one another. These virtual cooking classes also allow you to replace catering opportunities that have been lost due to the coronavirus. In this detailed guide, we provide you with all the information you need to start hosting virtual cooking sessions and generate additional revenue.
What Are Virtual Cook-Alongs?
A virtual cook-along is a video session that allows each participant to prepare a meal from scratch with a chef. These virtual cooking classes are typically private classes that families or corporations participate in so they can interact with each other while preparing a dish. Chefs guide participants throughout the cooking process and answer any questions that clients may have.
In a virtual cook-along, the catering company provides each client with a box of labeled ingredients and instructions. This ensures that participants have enough time to purchase cooking equipment they may not have and are using the same ingredients as chefs to prepare their meals.
How Do Virtual Cook-Alongs Benefit My Business?
With fewer customers dining at restaurants or requesting catered events, operators are able to generate some additional revenue with virtual cook-alongs. These video cooking lessons provide your staff members with a unique way to continue to do what they love and give customers an everlasting experience. Offering clients online cook-alongs also allows a company to expand its target audience which helps attract new customers and increase brand awareness.
How Do Virtual Cook-Alongs Benefit My Clients?
Virtual cooking sessions allow coworkers or families that are not able to see each other in person the ability to get together and learn how to prepare a dish. These cooking classes are designed for clients to enjoy because they are interactive and instructed by a chef. Participants cook with chefs in real-time and can ask chefs questions, making it easy for them to prepare the dish. Once clients finish preparing their meals, they are able to chat over meals and ask the chef any additional questions they may have.
How Can I Start Offering Clients Virtual Cook-Alongs?
Expanding your business to offer virtual cook-alongs may sound challenging because you aren’t sure where to begin. To guarantee that your operation is prepared to host online cooking sessions and attracts the attention of clients, you should consider creating a plan that will help your expansion run smoothly.
Create Meal Options For Customers
Chefs may be tempted to showcase their cooking skills by choosing to prepare a dish that is difficult to master such as paella, pad thai, or soufflé. However, preparing a meal that requires specific cutting techniques for each ingredient or consumes a lot of time will discourage clients. You should select meal options that are simple to prepare and require a lot of hands-on prep to ensure you provide clients with an engaging and enjoyable experience. If you are uncertain about which meals to offer for your online cook-along sessions, consider the following dishes:
- Garden Salad
- Roasted Chicken
- Whole Roasted Fish
Generate A Schedule
Organization is key in implementing a successful cook-along program into your foodservice establishment, making it essential to create a schedule. However, before deciding on the dates and times you want your business to conduct virtual cooking sessions, you should contact your chefs. It’s important to ask your employees about their availability to ensure that they are able to commit to cook-alongs. Creating a schedule that works best for your staff also allows them to prepare in advance so they can enjoy teaching sessions.
In addition to informing clients of the dates and times cooking classes are available, let them know which dish they will be prepping. Many of your customers will select a class because they will be preparing a dish that they want to learn how to master. It will also give you an idea of which meals your clients are most interested in cooking and allow you to make adjustments to schedules.
Decide On Which Video Platform To Host Cook-Alongs
Your goal is to provide customers with a seamless and enjoyable cook-along experience. In order to do that, it’s essential to plan ahead and know how you’re going to host a virtual session. There are many platforms you can use such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Try out a number of video communication services with your employees by doing trial runs to see which platform works best for your business.
Promote Your Virtual Cook-Alongs
Once everything is set, it’s time to promote your online cook-alongs. On your website, create a page with details about the dish that will be prepared, video platform, date, and time for each session. You want your website to answer all the questions potential clients may have about your cook-along classes.
You should also use social media to advertise your online cooking classes. Share all the details about your virtual classes and include photos of the dishes participants will prepare alongside a chef. Photos are what catch the attention of individuals on social media, and showcasing dishes they can prepare in a session is an effective way to attract customers.
How Do I Prepare For Cook-Alongs?
From packaging ingredients for customers to creating a list of ingredients, each video cooking session entails a lot of preparation from your staff. There are a few things you can do when preparing for a session to guarantee that your clients have everything they need to participate and that there are no hiccups along the way.
Properly Package Ingredients
Think about how you package food for delivery services or catered events and apply those same methods when packaging ingredients for cook-alongs. Package each ingredient separately to prevent them from mixing and use heat-sealable bags or grease-resistant containers to ensure that products are fresh and intact when they arrive at your clients’ doors.
Labeling each product that you package for your customers’ ingredient kits enhances your cook-along program’s organization. You will be able to quickly identify if a kit is missing an ingredient or has two of the same products.
Food labels also allow your clients to quickly differentiate ingredients that look similar or identify products they may not be familiar with. For instance, if you inform participants to add salt to the dish they are preparing, an ingredient label will prevent them from using sugar instead of salt. Clients that accidentally mix up ingredients during the session will alter the taste of their meals which may lead to them not enjoying their cook-along experience.
Provide Clients With A List Of Instructions
Giving each client instructions or to-do lists for the cook-along allows them to feel comfortable before and during the session. They will have an idea of what to expect from the class and purchase any supplies they may need in order to perform every task. When creating a list of instructions or to-do list for your customers, try to put yourself in the shoes of someone with not a lot of cooking experience and include information that will be helpful to them:
- Cooking equipment & kitchen tools: Inform clients of the tasks they will perform and the best tools or equipment to use in order to properly complete them.
- Recipe: Provide participants with a recipe for the dish they will prepare so they can easily follow along during the session.
- Storing instructions: Give customers a list of instructions on how to store each ingredient to prevent products from spoiling before the class.
How Should I Engage With Clients During Cook-Alongs?
Virtual cook-alongs provide coworkers and families with the ability to interact and cook together while apart. They are taking your cooking class to have a fun experience while learning something new. With that in mind, instruct the class as if you were teaching a friend how to cook. Simply assist them with anything they need and enjoy the time you and your clients have together. And don’t forget, your customers are not professional chefs or looking to compete in a cooking competition so be positive if they make a mistake and help them solve the issue.
Start Hosting Virtual Cook-Alongs Today!
Businesses are trying to get creative to make up for the decrease in revenue due to COVID-19 and are turning to online cook-alongs. These virtual cooking sessions provide your chefs with work and clients with a fun and interactive way to prepare and enjoy meals. Simply follow our informative guide when setting up for a cook-along session to provide participants with an enjoyable and seamless cooking experience.