2012 was the first year that I stood up in front of people and cooked something. I did two demos that year and cooked different dishes at each one. They both went well; I didn't trip up, forget anything or burn myself so I'd call it a roaring success. There was a little incident with some beetroot juice but the less said about that the better. This year I had three demos planned in all at different food festivals: Eat Reading, Petersfield and Newbury. So after cooking in front of a crowd five times I thought it would be useful to pass on what I've learnt.
- First and most importantly cook something that you like and that you are passionate about. This is for two reasons: you will cook it better and you can talk about it with ease.
- Practice, practice, practice. It's amazing how much longer or shorter something takes outside than inside. For example it can take an age to bring a pan of water to boil on a gas hob with the wind blowing. If you are well rehearsed then if something doesn't go quite to plan you won't panic.
- Take notes with you that you can refer to. I would have forgotten to add some ingredients if I didn't have my notes to remind me!
- Think about some interesting things you can talk about. You need some facts or stories to fill in the gaps between boiling, chopping or grating otherwise you'll just be standing in silence.
- Get the audience involved; talk to them, ask them questions. In my experience it's far more enjoyable for the audience and you if you engage with them.
- Make sure you know what equipment is provided and what you might need to bring yourself. It's remarkable how many times I could have been short of a peeler if I hadn't taken one just in case!
- Relax. I just think that I'm in my own kitchen showing a friend how to cook something. If you're calm and relaxed you'll enjoy yourself much more.