Part of my job as a Retail Dietitian is running food demonstrations. This is one of the parts of my job that I love/dislike. I love demoing recipes and having customers enjoy new foods that they never thought they would eat. I also love when I hear my recipe has become a family favorite! I am, however, not a fan of the recipe planning. I tend to overthink things, like most Dietitians I know. I worry about not choosing a recipe that goes over well with customers. After doing a few demos, I learned that you are not going to please everyone and not to take that personally. With that in mind, below you will find my tips for running a food demo!
Tip #1: Choose Your Recipe Based on Your Population
If you are serving a population of young kids, you wouldn’t necessarily choose a spicy or tough-textured recipe. You might, however, choose a healthy and simple snack or a common favorite dish with a healthy spin (like mac n’ cheese made with broccoli and chicken). Or if you are serving a group of seniors, you might go for softer foods versus nuts and crunchy items (since a lot of them have a hard time chewing). The population I work with is mostly families and health seekers. These health seekers want quick and easy recipes. I am not going to choose a recipe with 15 ingredients because even if customers like the recipe, they are not likely to make it at home. It is always best to assess your population first, then choose a recipe you think will go over well.
Tip #2: Add Options to Your Recipe
A lot of times, I will create or alter a recipe to make it healthier. I might cut back on the fat, sodium, carbohydrates, etc. I usually add to the bottom of my recipe ways to add flavor or ways to pair the recipe with something else. For example, I made a crockpot chicken fajitas recipe. I gave the option for people to add a wrap or rice for a carbohydrate source. I also gave the option to add extra veggies for more bulk. Another example is a cauliflower mashed potatoes recipe I tried. I used herbs and spices for the recipe, but gave the option to add parmesan cheese for extra flavor. Those who didn’t want to add the fat/sodium/calories were free to choose otherwise.
Tip #3: Taste and Prep Test Your Recipe Prior to Demoing
My first demo, I made an awesome sweet potato and acorn squash bake. The recipe went over so well; however, the prep was a disaster! I didn’t realize how long it would take to peel and chop 4 acorn squash (almost an hour). I was rushing and trying to recruit help for the prep with only having 1.5 hours before the demo start. It was definitely a stressful start, but you live and you learn 🙂 I’ve also had a few ideas for recipes and taste tested at home only to realize I needed to add or change things to make it more palatable. You won’t always have the time to alter recipes the day of, so it is best to perfect it prior to demoing.
Tip#4: Make a List of Everything You Need
Usually, my demo days are hectic. I come in 1-2 hours prior to the event. I make the recipe, set-up the demo table, and merchandise the items I am using. Unless I make a list, I forget even the simplest things (like my tablecloth for 1 demo). Make your demo run that much more smoothly and have a list of everything you need, down to the napkins!
Tip#5: Have a Copy of The Recipe With Nutritional Facts
Almost every person who comes to my demos will ask me something along the lines of, “Is this good for me?” Or, “I have Diabetes, how many carbohydrates are in this?” Or, “I have to watch my sodium, is there a lot in this recipe?” I find it so much easier to just have the recipe with the nutrition facts on the bottom. Even if I know the recipe is healthy, customers still want numbers. Plus, if you have a entree heavy on the carbohydrates, then those people with Diabetes might need to plan some non-starchy sides to balance it out.
I hope these tips help you in your food demos as much as they did me! Stay tuned for more tips from the life of a RD 🙂