We’re all missing in-person events as we take Zoom calls from our couches and heat up another pot of coffee. One thing we’re not missing, however, is the switch from the traditional branded tchotchkes to more elegant digital swag bags. Everyone attends at least one conference where this happens. You’re handed a bag and know…
Make your Event Memorable with Hands-on Cooking Classes
If summer is the time to get outside and enjoy patios and icy drinks, then winter is the time to stay cozy inside by stony hearths (or ovens) and indulge in homemade cooking. Fortunately, there are dozens of experiences and activities designed for just that—and some that take it a step further. When you book a hands-on experience for you and your group, you don’t just indulge in delicious meals and drinks, but everyone goes home with new culinary skills.
And our interactive food and beverage experiences aren’t your grandma’s cooking classes (unless you happen to have a really hip grandma). Think sushi rolling, smoked meats, moonshine and cooking competitions — not ruffled aprons and meatloaf.
Though the flavors and new cooking skills might be enough motivation, science also has shown that spending money on experiences rather than things brings more happiness. Shared experiences are associated more with “identity, connection and social behavior” than material goods according to this article from the Atlantic. So, standing next to a prospect or existing client rolling out homemade pasta or teaming up to beat your peers in an iron chef cook-off — is going to make a more lasting impression and elicit more positive feelings than sending them another branded paperweight or screen cleaner.
To whet your appetite for these interactive experiences, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites at the best venues around the country. Check out the list below or browse interactive food and beverage experiences.
Make your own pasta
There are few dishes as fun to prepare as this hearty Italian staple. Get hands on with the chef at LA’s globally renowned Obica. After your group enjoys wine and views of the LA skyline, they’ll prepare burrata appetizers, whole wheat pesto pasta and ricotta mousse for dessert. On the East Coast, check out Boston’s Commonwealth where Chef “Nookie” will demonstrate gnocchi rolling techniques and lead your group in making ricotta gnocchi before everyone gets to enjoy this market/restaurant’s fresh pasta dishes.
Learn the traditional art of sushi rolling at CoZara in Philadelphia. You and your guests will be set up with sushi rolling stations that include all of the necessary equipment and chef “Zama” will instruct everyone in traditional methods. In Denver, head over to Epernay where guests will learn how to make five different rolls and learn the basics of Japanese dining etiquette.
Smoked meats and barbecue
If your group is more carnivorous, Miami Smokers might be your style. At this Miami smokehouse, you and your guests will enjoy charcuterie and other treats before being escorted to the processing room where you’ll get a hands-on sausage-making experience. If you’re in Atlanta, check out DBA Barbecue where owner and pit master Matt Coggin leads the group in moonshine tasting and barbecue sauce making. Your group will get to make sauces that fit their favorite flavor profiles, then dig into smoked meats topped with their handmade sauces.
Full meal instruction
Having trouble deciding which type of cooking experience is best for your group? Choose an event that includes the whole meal. Learn from the chef in the privacy of your own test kitchen at Phoenix’s The Henry. Get a knife skills 101 lesson from the chef at Home Cooking New York. There, your group will learn the basics (sharpening, cleaning, storing, etc.) and proceed to whipping up cocktail syrups, hors d’oeuvres and dessert. In Chicago, boutique caterer Bespoke Cuisine has turned a storefront into a beautiful loft style dining room. Here your guests will divide up into groups to prepare different courses of a seasonal meal before sitting down to enjoy it together and discuss the experience. At La Cuisine Culinary Arts in Orange County, half your group will head to the kitchen for an interactive cooking class while the other half indulges in wine and cheese. After 45 minutes, the groups switch so that everyone gets a turn before sitting down for an elegant, but comfortable meal together.
Getting the competitive juices flowing can make for the most fun and memorable experiences. My Cooking Party in New York’s Flatiron District divides groups up into teams and pairs each team with professional chefs to cook with mystery ingredients in a limited time span. One team is named the winner, and then everyone enjoys a 3-course meal together. In Atlanta and Dallas, the Food Movement’s Team Building with Taste gives groups the chance to compete against one another — not just to see who can make the most delicious food, but also who can plate it in the most elegant way in the least amount of time. At Saga Hill in Minneapolis, chef Marianne Miller leads the group in a hands-on cooking competition where the menu can be customized to the group’s desires.
You can’t talk about dinner without thinking about dessert, and the chocolate tasting and truffle-making experience at event1013 outside Dallas is not to be missed. Chocolatier Zach Townsend will lead the group in a chocolate tasting where they’ll learn to analyze different flavor profiles and indulge in multiple samples. Next they’ll get their hands dirty (in the best possible way) by learning how to make their own chocolate truffles.
Smoked meats or sushi, laid back barbecue or elegant French cuisine, stainless steel test kitchens or cozy fireside dining rooms — no matter your group’s palette or preferences, there are cooking classes coast to coast that fit your needs. If you don’t see your city or flavor profile included here, browse our marketplace or contact one of our event experts to find the perfect culinary experience for your group.
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