Learning to cook in a group environment
If you’re looking to brush up on your cooking skills or learn some new recipes, but you’re not interested in a long term commitment, a cooking conference, demonstration or workshop is the solution for you.
Conferences, demonstrations and workshops offer students the chance to spend as little as an hour or as long as a weekend garnering tips and tools for making a great meal. They usually focus on a specific theme:
- Meals. Some group lessons will teach you how to prepare a specific meal. Especially popular right now are breakfast classes that offer tips and recipes for great morning meals.
- Types of Foods. Lessons often revolve around a particular type of food. For example, you can learn the techniques and ingredients that go into making an Indian, Italian or French meal.
- Ingredients. Like the Iron Chef America competition, some lessons will focus on a particular food. This may be a staple ingredient, such as a meat or vegetable, or it may be a spice or sauce on which the rest of the meal is centered. The lessons will offer tips on how to use the ingredient in different recipes and meals.
Cooking conferences are organized by a number of different groups, including culinary schools, chefs’ associations and television cooking shows. They generally run from one to three days and offer group discussions, lectures and cooking demonstrations.
The exciting part of a cooking convention (besides all the great tips and recipes you’ll learn) is that they tend to be focused on the enjoyment of food and so feature elaborate meals and gatherings filled with great foods that you might not have previously experienced.
Some of the most popular cooking conferences include:
- American Institute of Wine and Foods Events (the AIWF offers a number of different conventions and conferences, including Greek Feast in Florida, Beaujolais Nouveau Celebration in Denver and Thanksgiving in Baltimore)
- The International Association of Culinary Professionals
- The WELL Cooking Conference
Cooking demonstrations are offered in a number of locales: local malls, kitchen supply retailers and restaurants. Many of these demonstrations will focus on a particular tool and how it can be used in the kitchen. However, some demonstrations are a way for a popular chef to showcase his or her talents and share favorite recipes.
Most demonstrations will last for 45 minutes to an hour, provide recipes and shopping lists, show how to complete the recipe and offer a tasting of the final product.
Similar to the conference, a cooking workshop is a more labor and time intensive process. You’ll work with the foods that are introduced and will end up feasting with other classmates on your own productions. Workshops may last anywhere from an hour to an entire day and are typically longer than a demonstration, but are shorter than a conference. They may also be included in a conference as a way to provide a hands on cooking experience to participants.
Single cooking classes at a local school may also be considered a cooking workshop.