Teaching cooking classes is a great way to make a living working with food, without the grueling intensity of restaurant work. Setting up a home business teaching cooking classes enables you to design a program tailored specifically to your culinary strengths, and to attract a clientele interested in the specialty you offer. Your home cooking business can be as simple or as complicated as you choose, offering anything from occasional instruction for small parties, to a full-scale schedule, with guest chefs.
Research the licenses and permits you'll need for your home business teaching cooking courses. In addition to general state and city business licenses, you may need health department certification. Some states are beginning to require that home kitchens used for cooking classes be inspected and certified, so find out about local requirements before you proceed.
Set up your home kitchen to be accessible and functional for cooking classes. This can be a simple transformation if you only plan to teach a few small classes several times a year, or it can be a complicated project, if you plan to teach larger classes and offer an extensive schedule. Make sure there's plenty of space for the group you envision, and that your cooking station is centrally located, so students can easily see what you're cooking. Consider installing a mirror over the stove, so everyone can see what's going on in the pots and pans. If you have a larger kitchen and ambitious plans for your cooking school, you may also choose to install video cameras and monitors to offer students a closer view. Remember to buy a good dishwasher, too -- because you'll be washing a lot of dishes.
Purchase pots and pans for your home cooking school. Contact manufacturers of brands that you like and ask if they'd be interested in a sponsorship arrangement -- providing you with equipment at a reduced cost, in exchange for you recommending their products to your students. Choose pots and pans that are an appropriate size for the types of groups you'll teach in your kitchen. Avoid having to cook small batches in large pans, or large batches in small pans.
Buy utensils for your home cooking school. If you'll be teaching hands-on classes, purchase enough knives, cutting boards, pastry brushes, mixing bowls, baking pans, and spatulas to adequately outfit the number of students you intend to teach. If your classes will be primarily demonstrations, purchase a range of utensils adequate for demonstration purposes. Also buy enough bowls, plates, forks and knives to serve the dishes you prepare to your students at the end of class.
Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.