Cooking Classes

Dishing Up Cooking Classes at B & B Inns

Many of us enjoy watching the food network, buying a cookbook written by a celebrity chef or attending a cooking demonstration. Americans are making the most out of their leisure time by focusing attention on entertaining with food as a significant component.

Innkeepers are offering special weekend get-a-ways for culture seekers who are also foodies. Part of the experience usually includes cooking classes designed around popular themes like Regional American Favorites; International Cuisine Offerings; Preparing Healthy Meals; or Cooking 101-The Basics. Classes can even be designed as an organization retreat/team building event.

Food and culinary themed events seem to be gaining popularity at some famous places. The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, TX has a “Chef for a Day” program; The Greenbrier in West Virginia conducts their renowned BBQ University. Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns are getting involved in cooking classes as another way of offering an incremental reason to visit their inns, setting themselves apart from their competition.

The Pasfield House Inn has designed and added a complete training facility as part of its catering kitchen and are offering cooking demonstrations. Cooking classes can really be a good fit for Inns of all sizes, so even if an Innkeeper has only a tiny kitchen there are options. Use a portable burner for a demonstration in a dinning room. An Inn can use their cooking classes to fill overnight rooms during those slower seasonal times or on those days for the week that traditionally have higher vacancies. Bringing locals into the Inn for cooking classes also builds goodwill and is a public relations bonanza. Show those attending the cooking class a vacant room or two and you will build potential clientele through personal referrals.

There are many details to consider including whether the event will be a demonstration or a hands-on session. A hands-on class requires more space and equipment per student. Remember that guests come to eat as much as they come to learn how to prepare a cuisine. Some part of each class should include sampling, tasting, or a full meal so guests may actually eat what they have prepared. Detailed take-home recipes are expected and appreciated. In addition, an apron or chef jacket with the Inn logo is a nice touch and provides additional income with the added plus of advertising.

Above all, the cooking classes can be fun and entertaining. Offering a cooking class is a way to get earned media and is a great way to drive a gift certificate promotion. Offer it with an overnight stay and you’ve combined a package that also promotes the Inn. Classes also gives current guest another reason to return to the Inn. I encourage any Innkeeper to explore the fun of offering cooking classes to the public or as a private party for a group of friends. Good Food plus Good Friends always adds up to Good Times.