Which dishes should you cook with your guests? Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash
I often have people asking me this question and there’s not one answer that suits all. I believe the best dishes are your own, the ones that best tell your story.

However, the following factors are key:

  • Dishes related to your culture: we want your guests to learn more about your culture through the food you’ll be cooking together.
  • Your family stories: if you add a personal touch to the experience, your guests will be grateful to experience a real and authentic moment with you. Do you often cook a dish your grandma (or grandpa) used to cook?
  • Cook something you’re familiar with: you want to be able to cook without a recipe, so that you can show the cooking process while talking to your guests. It does not have to be a fancy dish; your guests will be happier to learn some tips to master a simple and delicious recipe than to cook a complicated dish they would most likely be unable to make again back home.

Potatoes from the Andean region, Argentina
Potatoes from the Andean region, Argentina
  • Use locally sourced ingredients: your guests are most likely interested in the local ingredients that are grown or produced in the area. If they have arrived a few days prior to the experience, they might have visited local markets and grocery stores and wondered about a product they’ve seen but not known about.

You might still be unsure about what to offer during your experience. Read on if that’s the case!

Cooking or baking

Photo by Gaelle Marcel — Unsplash
Photo by Gaelle Marcel — Unsplash

Our name (Take Me Cooking) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer baking experiences. On the contrary, you should! Baking is so much fun and I’m sure some of you have a baking recipe you love: the best cookies, cheesecake, alfajores or crepes for example. Baking is part of a lot of family traditions and your guests would I’m sure love to hear more about it!

Whole menu or single dish

It all depends how long you can allow for each experience. You should also allow time for guests to enjoy what they have made. For example to learn one dish you may wish to allow around 2 hours, whereas an entire menu may take around 4–5 hours dependant on the complexity of your dishes. You can also have a look at the experiences we already offer, it’s always good to offer something new.

Around cooking

Cooking experiences can sometimes go hand in hand with a lot of other fun activities. In addition to the cooking, you could offer:

  • A market tour: this is a great idea if the experience takes place within walking distance of a nice local market with fresh fruit and vegetables you can use in your recipes.

Hong Kong — Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Hong Kong — Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
  • A quick tour of the neighbourhood: if you don’t live close to a nice market, you could show your guests your favourite spots and give them some historical or interesting facts about the area.
  • A street art tour: some cities are particularly street art friendly and you might live (or be holding the experience) in a neighbourhood where it’s possible to observe some nice urban art pieces. You can also easily combine a neighbourhood visit (or market tour) with a street art tour.
  • Live music: some live music is a great way to boost the experience. Maybe you can play an instrument and could offer to play a song at the end. If you can’t play an instrument nor sing, some hand-picked songs played during the event will do the trick!
  • Poem reading: if you are a poetry fan or if you have a poem in mind and would like to read it to your guest (maybe in the original language with a translation), I know this is something I would appreciate myself as a guest.
  • Language informal lesson: the cooking experience is a good opportunity for your guests to learn some key words. You might want to tell them about the local slang, how Spanish is not spoken the same in all Spanish speaking countries for example.
  • Improv’: how about some improv’ games during the experience? They are a great ice-breaker and will allow everyone to get to know each other a bit better.

An experience with a theme

You might wonder what I mean by having a theme. Your experience could be quite specific and follow a theme of some sort. For example, If you are from Mexico maybe you could revisit the recipes from the book ‘Like Water from Chocolate’. Other examples may be offering an inspired experience such as an experience inspired by Pop Culture (Gilmore Girls, Star Wars, Harry Potter… etc) How about setting up an experience about cooking ‘like old times’?

About the food itself, you can focus on organic food if you know where to find the ingredients, or have a vegan experience if you believe in this lifestyle.

From an experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina
From an experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina

I think I’ve shared with you all that I could think of when it comes to starting an experience. This is an important part of becoming a host and I hope this article inspires you to come up with your own and that you’ll get in touch so that we can soon list your awesome cooking experience on www.takemecooking.com.

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