RD Whitney, VEI Co-Founder & Director
Chef-Driven Cooking Classes, New Market Opportunities, Lucrative Virtual Jobs for Chefs
Just when we started getting tired of Zoom meetings, Canadian chef talent agency The Chef Group offers dynamic cooking programs on this platform with compelling features for a market that craves unique experiences from virtual events.
Live and interactive, Cheftorial enables you, your colleagues, clients or network to prepare meals with a professional chef. Bringing the food & beverage experience virtual, the chef coaches you while you work from what Cheftorial calls “your Zoom Table.”
A Cheftorial event can take anywhere between 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on the event objectives. Each Cheftorial “class” can handle a maximum of 10 Zoom kitchens with 2 guests per kitchen. For a single event, the company can provide up to 10 Cheftorials for a total of 100 Zoom kitchens and 200 guests. The rack rate begins at $750 per 10 Zoom Kitchens.
When the meal is ready, participants can eat and enjoy business or social time with clients and associates. Cheftorial also encourages clients to “add more spice” to the event by inviting wine representatives to participate as well as booking VIPs or celebrities to “drop by.”
The Cheftorial concept appeals to a wide array of market segments, including social gatherings, corporate retreats and team-building exercises, trade show or conference events, educational functions, etc.
With their global team of chefs Another exciting component is that Cheftorial invites chefs to join their “Team Cheftorial” giving professionals a chance to show off their craft, gain valuable exposure and “get paid handsomely.”
When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Chief Expedition Officer Rivers Corbett recognized the importance for his clients to engage virtually with their customers in a manner that “significantly differentiated them from their competition.” Whereas other leaders saw virtual events as a last resort and hopefully a lifeline, Corbett saw an opportunity to make a real splash with his virtual platform for both his clients and his organization’s new market development efforts.
Here are some big takeaways from Cheftorial’s virtual strategy.
Go with your strengths. People want to learn how to cook (or cook better). The Chef Group has the chefs. With an established history of successful cooking shows going back to the days of Julia Child, the Cheftorial concept brings the chef to your kitchen in a real-time interactive platform.
Co-brand with your platform to establish credibility and comfort. Cheftorial’s coining of “your Zoom table” shows legitimacy while adding a physical dimension to the platform. It gives the participant the impression that Cheftorial “owns” the technology. It may seem superficial, but when you see how other organizations struggle with Zoom, co-branding your tools with your technology establishes an air of confidence and “know how” with your users.
Develop a pricing matrix that shows value and reflects the in-person experience. A lot of virtual event organizers are emphasizing free registrations to build their community, and there’s merit to this strategy when you consider the long-term growth potential. But when you can craft a $75-per couple cooking class into a virtual platform that allows you to invite up to 198 people (or 99 couples), you are going to market with a product that has established value and then some.
Make it a party. The ultimate measure to any in-person event is the quality of the entertainment. An exhibitor who has a sub-par sales effort can still justify the expense of the show if they were able to treat their existing customers and/or mix it up with industry professionals at a fun “event within the event” like a theme party, a pub crawl, a golf outing, a ball game or some local attraction. Unfortunately, most of these concepts don’t translate well on a virtual platform, but a chef-driven cooking class that evolves into a dinner party can.
Think like a trade show organizer. A successful trade show producer has to deliver buyers and sellers (as well as experts and professionals needing certifications or credits it there’s a conference component). Cheftorial delivers the value proposition for the “attendees,” but their active recruitment of freelance chefs to grow their global team is a brilliant stroke of marketplace genius. The surplus of chefs from all over the world have an opportunity to earn significant income AND demonstrate their skills and expertise to a qualified audience of prospective clients, investors and fans.
Think “sky’s the limit” with the virtual platform. A typical B2B in-person event has to focus on the industry it’s serving, and can fail miserably if it tries serving other market segments in the same venue. A virtual concept like Cheftorial can be marketed to consumer audiences, event organizers and a wide range of corporate or commercial interests that would easily recognize the impact of this unique experience on their target audience.
The Cheftorial also has enormous potential for concept development. The “chef” could be replaced by wine makers or sommeliers, cheesemakers or brewers. As the business grows, culinary students or chefs-in-training could pay to participate, thus creating another revenue center for the company. And the concept could be white-labeled for future applications willing to pay a premium to use Cheftorial as a means for demonstrating their technology. Their free demos, known as “Ice Box Cheftorials,” challenges participants’ creative skills by having them make their own culinary masterpiece with no recipe, using the current contents in their fridge and pantry. This wrinkle on the concept could be its own consumer-branded event product with unlimited growth potential.
And so, for Cheftorial, the sky really is the limit and virtual event organizers should pay close attention. In the meantime, Rivers Corbett and his team of global chefs are showing clients a fun way to engage with their customers during this “new normal.” They are even poking fun at the pandemic, as per one of their mottos: “Only smiles required. No COVID masks.”