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Four Easy Steps to Cooking Demos that Sizzle An interview with Michelle Dudash

Chef_Michelle_DudashBy Lorena Drago MS, RD, CDN, CDE

Forest Hills, NY

In 2011, I was asked several times to pair nutrition and diabetes presentations with food demonstrations.  An ardent fan of cooking shows, I felt I could certainly rise up to the occasion. I realized that I needed to brush up on my culinary skills so I could provide a memorable and engaging presentation.  In June, I attended the International Association of Culinary Professionals Annual Conference. I met Registered Dietitians like Michelle Dudash who merged gastronomy and nutrition.

Michelle Dudash is an award-winning Registered Dietitian, Cordon Bleu trained chef, recipe developer and writer. Michelle knows good food and is an expert in teaching people how health and food can happily co-exist.

LD. Overall, I want to help my colleagues who have dipped their toes in the area of food demonstrations and I also want to provide a template (survival guide) for those who have thought about it but have no idea how to start. How do we start?

MD. In July of 2011, I presented a webinar to the Food and Culinary Professionals Dietetic Practice Group titled, Spreading your Message with Cooking Demos that Sizzle.

LD: Michelle has graciously shared the slides of her presentation. You can view the slides as slides handouts.

LD. That sounds like a timely topic. What are the objectives of the presentation?

MD. The objectives are:

  1. Understand why a cooking demo is an effective way to spread your nutrition message.
  2. Discover the steps going into execution of a professional and memorable cooking demo.
  3. Develop skills used by professional food stylists, media food spokespersons and chefs, to make your cooking demo appear effortless and magic.

LD. What essential items are included in your preparation check list? 

MD. Important tools to produce a well-planned cooking demo include a well-tested recipe, props that decorate and serve as  eye candy, a well written script, and any small wares and food for performing the demo.

LD. What utensils are essential?

MD. I always bring the following items to cooking demonstrations: spoons, cutting board, paring knife, paper and kitchen towels, napkins, utensils and dishes to serve samples. I also bring colorful cloth napkins, tablecloths and solid-colored plates.

LD. You have coined a catchy mnemonic, outlining the essential components of a successful food demonstration. Could you elaborate? 

I have developed the four Ps of food demonstration

Plan

  • Ask crucial questions – learn as much as possible about your audience and their interests. Inquire about the location of the event and access to water, electricity, stove, etc.
  • Choose a theme
  • Choose the recipe
  • Write your message points

Prep

  • Make a grocery lists
  • Make copies of handouts or recipes
  • Prepare and pack everything that you need for the food demonstration
  • Select your props

Practice

  • Dry rehearsal
  • Dress rehearsal with food

Passionate execution

  • Convey your words with passions
  • Be engaging
  • Ask questions and answer questions

LD. I have heard from other colleagues that you are a wonderful presenter. Wonderful presenters have a passion for what they do and this shines. What makes you shine? What moves you?

MD. I love food! Food connects us as people in how it makes us feel and interact with others. Food brings us joy and food experiences connect us with our memories. I love being able to teach people about healthy eating through recipes and entertainment. If I can make them smile while teaching them about good food, then I’ve done my job.

LD. Michelle, can you provide our readers with additional resources?

MD. Joining the Food and Culinary Professionals DPG is a smart idea for dietitians wanting to learn more about food preparation, media skills, and overall appreciation for food. Other useful resources are: