When it comes to chefs that are working within an independent housewares store’s culinary program, whether a guest chef or a regular instructor, getting them on board with the store’s product selection can be difficult.
Some chefs have their own notions about certain products, some have their own preferred brands and others just use products in a cooking class the way they would use products either at home or in their restaurants, with no second thought about how it can affect business.
But, getting those that teach cooking classes in line with the store’s product selection is critical, said Marcia Jochem, owner of Evansville, IN-based Thyme In The Kitchen.
“We had a chef once that came in and told people that she buys cheap fry pans because she will just end up throwing them away after a few uses,” said Jochem.
However, Jochem and the store’s staff came up with an idea to get chefs aligned with the product mix that the store was selling. Every year for the holidays, Jochem decides on a product that should be highlighted within the store and gives all of her chefs one of them. The gift varies depending on the year and the store’s needs, said Jochem. She added that sometimes she is able to work with a rep to mitigate costs on the gifts, while other times she handles it out of pocket on her own.
“It really helps the chefs because they use it at home and they ended up loving it. Now, the chef we had that used to buy cheap fry pans swears by [a higher-end brand]because she used it herself,” said Jochem.
Additionally, she said, it acts as a “thank you” to her culinary guests for taking time out of their schedules to teach classes at her store. This has made them more likely to stay on the roster of chefs as well, Jochem noted, because they feel as if their contribution to the culinary program is appreciated.