This past Saturday I held my very first LIVE cooking demonstration. Sure, I have been food blogging for several years now and have often shared videos of my recorded recipes on instagram or facebook stories. However, never ever have I logged in to zoom to find a "room" full of people, looking back at me in real time. While the memory is still fresh, and before live cooking becomes easy for me (hopefully!), I thought I would share the 5 lessons I learned cooking live for the first time. If you would like to watch the full demonstration you can find it here:
1. Figure out the technology well in advance
I am not a very tech savvy person so I probably should have given more time to prepare the technology. Fortunately my contact at Alliance Française had the foresight to plan a practice zoom meeting a couple days before the event. It was then that I discovered that my natural inclination towards portrait view would not work as well for this zoom format. Only problem - with a gallery kitchen I couldn't set up the IPad far enough back to capture both my cutting board and my face. Realizing that being a headless cook or not being able to demonstrate what I am cooking would not do, I was able to order a stand just in time, but still had to use portrait mode for the demonstration.
At this moment I am researching options for wall mounted zoom cameras that would work in landscape mode. If any one has any suggestions please leave me a comment!
2. Pre-measure your ingredients
Cooking live reminds me of cooking with a toddler. It is best if you remove all possibilities for error. Pre-measuring ingredients into ramekins made it easy to tell a story while cooking. When you are worried that you forgot a ingredient in the Moelleux au Chocolat it is all the more difficult to make charming banter!
3. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
Le Chef made me prepare a full additional completed serving of each dish. When I say "made me" it is because it felt like an unnecessary step in an already very full morning. But, as with most things cooking related, he was right. Having a fully prepared dish to present at the end is your safety net. You many not use it, but if you need it you are SO grateful that it is there! Fortunately I didn't have to use my completed dishes but had I burnt the Branzino or dropped the bowl of Olive Tapenade it sure would have been useful to have a back up. Le Chef's years of experience on live TV and in cooking competitions has taught him that ANYTHING can happen.
4. A good Sous-Chef is key!
A good Sous-Chef makes things look like magic. Le Chef anticipated when I needed the next ingredients, he whisked away empty ramekins to keep my work space clean and subtly reminded me that I had croutons in the oven I had forgotten about. Most importantly, he had a never ending supply of snacks and distractions for our 2 children when they both decided to skip their afternoon naps. Then, when the distractions were no longer sufficient, he scooped them up and brought them into the kitchen with us. Last but not least, at the critical moment of taking the Moelleux au Chocolat out of their pastry rings, Le Chef was there to lend an expert hand.
5. Just do it!
Like with any fear, it is is the anticipation that is the worst. I was so nervous and shaky the morning before the demonstration. I dropped things. Made mistakes. But now that I have taken the leap, I can't wait to do it again! How often do you get to do something that truly thrills you? I felt like I was in my teens again, acting in the school play. It was exhilarating and fun and I look forward to many more live cooking demonstrations.
I am so grateful to Natasha and Sarah of Alliance Française Washington DC for reaching out to me. I will certainly never forget my first live cooking demonstration!
Have you tried cooking live? I hope the lessons I learned cooking live encourage you to go for it! I can't wait to cook for you all again!