A cooking demo can be very intimidating. Bright lights beaming above your head, cameras staring at you from every angle, a teleprompter with words speeding down the screen and a ticking clock showing that you only have 30 seconds left for your cooking demo. There are a lot of reasons why chefs get some serious nerves when it comes to going on television. It was a little nerve wracking for me when I first started. I will say that it does get easier the more practice you get. I am not claiming that I am a pro, I am still working on perfecting my on-camera presence and delivery but I have done a handful of TV appearances on networks like CBS, NBC and Good Morning Texas.
Whether you’ve done a cooking demo on TV before or you’ve thought about doing one, here are some tips for nailing your demo and how you can get invited back to do more!
Pick a Simple Dish to Demo – Have you ever watched a cooking demo on TV where you could tell that the chef was really rushed and there were a lot of steps? Too many steps? You have limited time to show people how to make your dish, so make sure you pick a dish that is rather simple and easy to make. It will not only be easier for you but viewers will be able to follow you better and you’ll keep their interest.
Prep the Food Ahead of Time – When you are invited to do a cooking demo, most chefs are expected to have a finished version already done or at least most of the dish already prepped. For example, I did a cooking demo for back to school healthy lunches and was showcasing broccoli tots. I made them ahead of time because they were a lengthier recipe but I also showed some of the steps to making them but just not all of the steps. Most networks will post your recipe on their website so viewers can get the full recipe because there is really not a lot of time on air to cover everything.
Write Out Your Talking Points – Don’t try to wing it. You want your delivery to be professional and part of that is preparing ahead of time by writing out talking points. What do you want to say about the dish? What are some alternative ingredients viewers can use? What else do you want to make sure to cover? Some networks will ask you for talking points ahead of time while others do not. It is good practice to write them up anyway and then email them your talking points so you both are on the same page. Also realize that you will most likely not get to cover every talking point but having some to reference would be great. Some producers might even put your talking points in the teleprompter so if you can remember what to say!
Figure Out Your Table Layout – Always ask what kind of space you’ll be doing the cooking demo in. How big of a table or area will you have? This will help you know what kind of props you can bring and what things you are better off leaving at home. Believe it or not, the presentation on the table is important. I like to include a little sign with my logo on it that sits on a frame along with a cute tablecloth and some props that go with the theme of my cooking demo. Most producers leave it up to you to decide what to bring.
Get Your Hair and Makeup Professionally Done – Okay so this isn’t an absolute must (especially if you’re a guy!) but I always get my hair and makeup professionally done when I’m doing a cooking demo. It’s necessary to wear about a 1/3 more makeup than you normally do (or more if you never wear makeup!) because on camera you get drowned out with the harsh lighting. Make sure to fill in your eyebrows, etc. I also get my nails done too because they will be showing shots of your hands and you want them to look nice and clean!
Wear Your Nicest Chef Coat – Make sure you come wearing a pristine and CLEAN chef coat that is on brand! I get all of my chef coats embroidered with my logo. As far as pants go, wear what you feel is comfortable but also nice enough for TV. I wear my signature black leather pants, but that is my brand so your look might be different.
Practice, Practice, Practice – Practice makes perfect they say and this couldn’t be more true when it comes to TV appearances! Before the big day, practice what you’re going to say, go over exactly how you are going to show the steps and when you’re going to show the final product, etc. Better yet, practice in front of your family or group of friends and ask for their feedback on how you did.
Share More Ideas After the Segment – If you want to get invited back first of all you need to have done a great job! It’s always a good idea to come to the segment with a couple more ideas of what you can do next time. After the demo and the cameras stop rolling, tell the host some ideas of what you can do next time and express that you’d be happy to come back and share more.