Your target demographic for cooking classes is likely a group of people who enjoy watching the Food Network and shows like Beat Bobby Flay. Bobby Flay is a well-known chef who is adored by many people. On the television show, a cooking event is held where people face off against each other in a cooking competition. The one who wins gets to go up against Bobby Flay and try to beat him at a dish of the other chef’s choice.

The final dishes are judged blind, meaning that the judges have no idea whose dish they are tasting. Of course, the goal is to find something the other cook is great at making but which Bobby Flay isn’t familiar with. Needless to say, Bobby Flay is amazing and typically wins regardless of what the dish is.

Steps to Hosting a Beat Bobby Flay Cooking Event

Plan Your Event

The first step is to choose a date and time that works well for the chef who contestants will go up against. If you host the event on a weekend, you’ll open the door to many attendees who might not be able to attend during the week when work and a million other commitments compete for their time and attention.

Once you set a date, begin to advertise it.

  • Send out press releases to local media
  • Post a flyer in your restaurant or school
  • Send out a postcard to past clients
  • Use social media to get the word out

Choose Initial Dishes

At the beginning of the competition, you’ll have participants compete against one another to narrow it down to the person who will go up against your own “Bobby Flay” or the chef of your choice. The initial dishes should be fairly common since most of your attendees aren’t going to be professional chefs. Try to stick with recipes people have likely cooked often.

  • Steak and potatoes
  • Salad
  • Desserts
  • Chicken
  • Fish

You get the idea. Stick with common, easy to find ingredients for the initial stages. Another idea is to set up the stages of the competition with different courses. So, the first round would be appetizers or salad. The second round, the entree. The final round dessert.

Sign Up Contestants

Before you take contestants, you’ll need to figure out how many people can comfortably compete in your location at one time. If you have space for ten people to cook, then the first round should take up to 10 people. If you have less, you can always host several nights of competition with a final cook off on another weekend.

Decide whether the event is simply to promote your business or if you prefer to charge a small fee to participate in the contest. The choice is yours and there is no right way or wrong way. Understand that if you are charging, you will likely get less participation, though.

Audience or Not?

Do you want to have an audience watching the event? You can easily set up some chairs for family and friends to attend your event, but you might also decide you don’t want the distraction for contestants or that the venue is too crowded to accommodate guests.

If you choose not to allow an audience, you may want to hire a videographer to tape and edit the event for participants to keep and watch later with family and friends. This can also serve as additional exposure for your business.

Choosing and Managing Judges

You will need impartial judges to make the decision on which dishes are best. It’s wisest to give each participant a number and only bring the judges in after the dishes are cooked and set up for the judges to taste. This removes any prejudice as the judges have no idea who cooked which dish. The results should be based exclusively on taste and presentation.

You’ll also want to come up with the criteria the judges should use. For example, they can give up to ten points based on:

  • Taste
  • Presentation
  • Creativity
  • Other requirements

Prizes and PR

To entice people to sign up for the event, you may want to offer some prizes. This can be anything from a kitchen utensil, such as a nice mixer, or cooking classes. You can even offer cash prizes, but carefully check federal and state regulations on contests to be sure you aren’t running the class as a lottery, which can get you into hot water. These rules vary, so when in doubt consult your business attorney.

The excitement of this type of event can easily get you some free PR for your business. Invite local media to come cover the event or even to participate as one of the judges. Cooking magazines in your area are a great contact to reach out to because the event is centered around food and that’s what they’re all about.

Most of all, have fun with your Bobby Flay style cooking event. You never know – one of your contestants might go on to compete against the actual Bobby Flay one day and beat him.