By AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, CareerFuel.net
Here is a free idea for someone who is looking for a career involving food—cooking demonstrations at your local farmers market. Beginning in June in much of the country, these markets will be opening up again for business. If you like to cook, want to promote your skills and are comfortable talking to groups of people, then this is a great small business idea!
Start by going to the people who manage your local farmers market, and ask them if you could set up a station where you create meals on the spot, using vendor ingredients. For example, use the organic eggs from one, the herbs from another, the spring onions from a third, the cheese from a fourth and the sorrel from a fifth vendor, pulling together the makings of a frittata. Maybe you could create a salad from field lettuce, fresh beans and fennel that you found at one vendor’s table. Add fresh, crusty bread and a local wine being featured at another stand and you have yourself a ready meal!
How about an appetizer of fresh spinach, garlic, lemon thyme and red peppers on baguette? Using fresh, local and beautiful produce from any one of the vendors provides practically unlimited culinary opportunities!
Many of us love to shop these venues, but really haven’t a clue about how to make that certain green (is it collard, kale, mustard, winter?) into something worth eating. And how about those mulberries? Do I make a smoothie with them in hopes that the antioxidants stomp out any lurking cancer cells or do I turn them into a pie?
Ready for your 15 minutes of fame? Most cities and large towns have a public access cable channel. These channels air school board meetings and town council discussions and are usually looking for other local content to fill up the time. Try contacting them to see if they are interested in your idea. Maybe they would send a camera person to film your cooking sessions and then run it on the station. It is good “local story” material and may help drive traffic to the farmers market. That’s a win/win for everyone: the vendors, the local merchants who see an increase in foot traffic and the town.
Where does all this lead? Maybe you always wanted to be a caterer, open a restaurant, become a personal chef or just finished culinary school and you are looking to be discovered. This may just be the visibility you need to make it all happen.
So, make some calls, get the creative cooking juices going and get out there— and don’t forget to write us and let us know what happened!
(Originally published April 25, 2012 here)