Coming up to my first year as a Cooking Teacher, I thought I would share with you on what I have learnt. I could list a million things through this blog (and I actually had originally started with a massive list) but looking through the items that I had written down, there was 5 key points I wanted to share with you.
Now to start off with, I believe that throughout our lives, we all inspire and teach people. Whether it be through our kids/family, your colleagues at work or through our friends, we all have something to say and information to contribute through our daily activities.
If you’ve ever had a passion for food or just really wanted to know what kind of key points you need getting into an industry that you can inspire foodies, then these are some things you need to know.
1. You don’t know food until you have to teach people how to cook for a living
I’ve been in the food industry all my working life and have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by family and friends who either loved food or had businesses in food. To be very direct, I feel like its part of my DNA and personality. I knew that when I first started the Cooking Teacher role that I had a good base of knowledge about food and cooking BUT what I didn’t know is how difficult it is to have complete faith in yourself and confidence that you know enough to relay what to you want to get across to paying clients.
The difficulty with teaching food is there is so much knowledge out there about techniques and the science behind food or why we prepare a dish a certain way that its very challenging to know it all. Its fine that you know the answer, however what is the difficult part is to verbalise that in a manner where all clients can understand or relate to what you are saying (not an easy task I must say).
2. Your attitude when teaching, is everything!
This is a big one for me!
To teach a class, you need to be able to be direct in your instructions, have fun with your personality, inspire/support people to get out of their comfort zone by putting their hand up to learn something new and command an audiences attention at the same time and surprisingly a teacher can only achieve this by a their attitude.
Its true what they say about people choosing you attitude and leaving your personal problems at the door. Once you step in front of people to teach them, nothing else matters but what you need your clients to get out of the experience. Sometimes this can be a very draining experience (if you do it right) especially when you have a client, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to participate or get involved. Unfortunately this is the toughest time to have a good attitude but I’ve learnt that you can look at this situation in one for 2 ways. You can give up and let the situation get to you (which doesn’t help you or the client) OR you can look at it as a challenge to inspire them to have fun and not take themselves so seriously, this breaks down the wall that the client has built up and easier for you to teach and keep that positive personality.
3. The more fun your clients are having the more they tend to learn
Through all stages in our lives, play can be a great way to learn. The more you have fun, the more I have found that people learn more and in fact actually WANT to learn more as it keeps them engaged throughout the time in your class. It also is a great way to get people to relax. As adult we are taught to take ourselves seriously (because lets face it, if we don’t take ourselves seriously then who will?) and in our business lives its can be hard to let go, have fun and relax. So its even more important that that as adults, we get a chance to get back to play again so that it opens the mind to learn.
4. Its ok not to know everything
This was a really hard one for me to learn…..
The first time I admitted in a class that I didn’t know something was a huge blow to my ego as a teacher and to be honest took me a while to bounce back from in the class. I felt that if I had admitted that I didn’t know something that I wasn’t credible as a teacher (and this is can tell you is COMPLETELY WRONG!!!).
Its important for the clients to see that they can trust what you say is correct knowledge and as a result, sometimes you have to admit that you don’t know the answer to everything. That’s not to say that you just admit that you’re wrong or don’t know the answer and move on with no action or attempt to find out the answer to the question. How you deal with not knowing the answer is just as important on how you deal with a mistake in the kitchen.
a) it shows your client that you are human and even people who create dishes on a regular basis can mess up
b) its gives you an opportunity to correct a mistake in front of the clients. This can be a teachable moment in itself as the client can now see how to come back from a slip up in the kitchen.
5. Do your homework
I spend a lot of time researching new and interesting facts about dishes that I’m either learning about for a new class or something new to keep an existing class interesting for me and the clients (this is one of the reasons why I started this blog site). You cant teach a class properly if you don’t know what you’re talking about or if you’re bored with the material you are giving. You want to be able to walk into each class positive and confident that you can answer the questions that someone will ask you throughout the time you have with them.
As you can see…. combining all the above things makes for happy clients! 🙂