While cooking classes are a staple in many independent gourmet housewares stores, it may not always be easy to combine entertainment with the ability to learn serious cooking skills. However, at The Wooden Spoon, based in Chicago, IL, owner Trina Sheridan told GOURMET INSIDER® that she has found a balance between the two.
“We kind of do it so that our Wednesday night class and Thursday night class are more serious and our Friday night and Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon classes are less serious,” she said. “It’s more of a party atmosphere.”
Whether it’s a serious cooking class or one that is a bit more light, Sheridan formats the classes so that everyone cooks the dishes together. This helps students in the classes become more relaxed and interact with each other more easily. She also said that the classes are BYOB, which helps to add to the entertainment factor.
“People have met in our classes, like different couple and friends – and then they go out afterwards,” she said.
Sheridan also utilizes the courtyard outside the store for cooking classes. The store has a patio with several grills out back enabling her to teach grilling classes on a regular basis.
“Anytime we can grill, we do. We do all sorts of grilling classes like California barbecue, Father’s Day barbecue, Italian barbecue and more,” she said.
And while traditional-style cooking classes are still a boon for the retailer, one of her most successful cooking classes is a bit out-of-the traditional box, she said.
“We also have a cooking with comedy night. We have an improv comedy troupe down the street and we’ll do the whole cooking class and then for 45 minutes, this comedy troupe will come in and they will eat their dessert and watch the comedy show,” she said. “That’s been really successful.”