How to start a cooking school

Written by tammy dray
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How to start a cooking school
(Vangelis Thomaidis)

Cooking school is a great small business that has become increasingly popular over the past decade. This is due in part to the desire of many to learn how to make their own meals, but also because people are looking to eat healthier while saving money. When planning a cooking school, it is important to keep in mind the practical steps needed to get through the process as painlessly and quickly as possible.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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    Consider taking a class, such as the ones offered by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can also find classes on teaching cooking classes at local colleges, adult education centres and even online. If you have little experience with cooking, you may want to take some additional classes or even pursue a degree in culinary arts. On the other hand, if you need help with the business aspect of things, consider taking a class on starting your own company or general finances.

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    Start small. Rather than setting up a full-scale school, consider teaching some classes at local community education centres, local colleges or even shops or cafes. You can also organise classes at a distance, where you teach virtual students how to get started in a specific field, such as preparing desserts, cooking for the holidays or making soups.

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    Gather all needed equipment. Even if you rent the space, you may need to bring your own kitchen supplies to use with the students. This will mean buying industrial-size mixers, pots and china, as well as any specific items needed for the type of food you are preparing with your students. For example, an Asian cooking class will most certainly require a wok and maybe a rice cooker.

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    Find out if permits or business licenses are needed in your area. This varies by state and even by city, so you will need to contact the local Small Business Administration office and request specific details. If you are planning on actually preparing food, rather than simply explaining the process, you may need access to a professional kitchen. Rather than setting up your own, it may make more sense to rent one by the hour, at times when a local cafe or restaurant is not available.

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    Decide on a type of cooking school. Unless you have a large group of employees working and teaching for you, it may make sense to stick to one niche. Whether you teach vegetarian cooking, regional meal preparation or international cuisine (anything from Japanese to Mexican), specialising will help you gain a reputation in the field and will make it easier to advertise and reach prospective students.

Tips and warnings

  • In certain states, it may be possible to run a cooking school out of your own home.

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