Whether you run a restaurant, offer cooking classes, or both, summer is the perfect time for outdoor cooking events. Not only can you bring your talents outside, but moving things outdoors can open up the opportunity for larger events than ever before.

Cooking Fair

Do you offer cooking classes? An outdoor cooking festival is the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to the community.

Pre-Festival Planning

  • Choose a location. You can either tag onto a local festival and purchase a large enough booth to do a cooking demonstration, or you can host a mini-festival in your parking lot or a side garden. You may also be able to rent out a building at your local park.
  • Place an open invitation in the newspaper.
  • Send press releases to local TV and radio stations.
  • Send printed invites to past clients.

Setting Up the Event

  • You’ll need an are to cook. Grilling is an obvious choice for an outdoor event, but you can also run electricity, set up burners, and cook right on site.
  • Set up booths where attendees can try out the different types of foods you might teach them to cook. You’ll need different people to man each booth and also to pass out literature.
  • Lay out the stations so that people have an entry point and exit point. Upon exiting, place literature about your cooking classes or restaurant in their hands. If you can offer a coupon, they may be more likely to hold onto the literature.

Following Up

  • Collect email addresses by offering a contest for a free cooking class, set of cookware, etc.
  • Send out an email thanking these people for attending your event (or stopping by your booth if you are part of a larger event).
  • Later, send a special offer for them to sign up for a class or come eat at your restaurant, such as 20% off.

Night Under the Stars

Another idea is to create a romantic evening under the stars. If you have a garden area on your property, this is simple to set up. If you do not, you may need to string twinkle lights to create your own “starry night sky.”

Set two-top tables up with white tablecloths, a vase with a single red rose, candlelight, and beautiful china.

Soft music and chocolate are both musts for this event. You’ll also want to showcase your top dishes for each course, or use those they can learn to cook themselves by taking your classes.

Outdoor Grilling

Offer a class outside that incorporates what the summer season is well known for – grilling.

  • You’ll need a large, hoodless grill so all the students can see what you’re doing.
  • Show them the prep work of creating marinades and prepping meats and veggies for grilling.
  • Explain how to get the grill to the right temperature and cooking methods.
  • As you sear the meat, talk about techniques such as not turning too many times and how to know when food is done.
  • End the class by sitting down with everyone and enjoying the delicious food.

Throwing the Perfect Outdoor Party

If you want to throw the perfect outdoor event, pay attention to the little things. Make sure you figure out a way to keep bugs at bay, such as citronella candles around the perimeter of the seating area. Is it blazing hot outside? Consider renting water misting fans.

Looking for even more ideas for summer themed cooking classes? Check out Sally Painter’s article on summer themed ideas.