Insight on In-Home and Private Cooking Classes


Amanda Cushman’s teaching business model asks, “What is my time worth?”. In her October 2017 IACP Webinar, she shared how she has answered that question as she has built her culinary career as a cooking teacher. Below you’ll find the top tips and highlights from her discussion.

Price Classes Right

I decided some years ago what my time is worth. I take this into account in my private class rates and encourage you to come up with a flat rate which will insure your fee will not change due to number of students. The key is to price classes a bit more than local cooking schools. Private classes are tailored to the student on every level and someone shopping for this service will understand the value.

Factor in Hidden Expenses

Menu planning, recipe development, and email correspondence are all part of the effort that goes in to creating a private or public class. Take this into consideration when determining your hourly rate. And don’t forget travel. If the round trip to a class will take an hour or more, you must charge for your time and allow a percentage for gas.

Make Travel Profitable 

When traveling outside of my home state to teach, I plan as many classes as I can, often adding on a public class at a local cooking school. Many cooking schools will cover your travel expenses and will offer a per diem as well. I often negotiate travel expenses by charging a higher rate for the class. Remember to enjoy yourself as well, it’s best to go somewhere that you are interested in and if you have friends there, all the better.

Incorporate Personal Preferences

When creating menus, I test recipe in my home kitchen and then take them on the road. Only cooking food I would like to eat myself, I have developed a list of thirty complete menus for clients to choose from.

I will send over a detailed shopping list after the clients pick their menu of five dishes. I encourage clients to shop for themselves and plan to hire someone to clean up or do it as a group. If they prefer that I do the shopping, a flat rate is charged for that time and receipts are provided. If the client would like to have a person come to clean up and serve, I can arrange for that and the client then pays for clean-up directly.

Encourage Students to Help Promote 

I asks participants to share their email addresses, so that I can send them updates, recipes and announcements of public classes. A day or two after the class, I will send an email asking how the food was and if there are any questions about the recipes. At that point I ask for a review on Yelp and Google Business. These positive reviews drive traffic to my website. When clients post photos on social media, always encourage them to tag you and your business.

If you have a cookbook, a class is the perfect place to sell it. I always mention my cookbook Simple Real Food a few times throughout the class and it naturally sells itself. I often include a recipe or two from the book, which adds to its marketability.

By Amanda Cushman | www.chapelhillcookingclasses | with Sheila Crye CCP | |

Excerpted from the Winter 2018 edition of the IACP Cooking Schools and Teachers newsletter. 

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