Here at Airbnb we’re constantly inspired by the host community, and the exciting, magical experiences they’ve created all over the world. Hearing from other hosts—and taking experiences in your area—is a great way to get inspired for your own.
We spoke to six hosts of cooking experiences and they shared their passions, challenges, and advice.
What inspired you to create your experience?
“My husband is a makeup artist, he’s into drag culture. I’d been doing cooking classes for like 10 years. We were trying to find a way that we could have more time together and do the things we both loved,” says Pedro, who runs Drag Queens Cooking Class & Dinner Party in Lisbon. “The idea was doing the things we both like the most, and the result was a drag queens cooking class and dinner party, where we transform all of our guests into fabulous drag queens. We have a blast every night.”
“I wanted to share with people the knowledge of my mom and my wife,” explains Brahim, who offers a Cooking class with a Moroccan family in Marrakech. “Also to let people discover the real life of a Moroccan family. I had the idea that we’d share our real life and real home.”
“We have a very similar childhood,” says Luca who along with co-host Lorenzo runs Cooking class in the Chianti Hills, “We grew up with our grannies and we learned how to cook from them. We always loved to cook.”
What’s been your most memorable moment?
“Right when we opened the schedule we heard all of our cellphones beeping. We were live and it was Airbnb and we shouted all together ‘Bookings!’ It was so great, you know. Two guests come from Australia and the other two came from San Francisco. Then we never stopped,” says Chef Raja who hosts Make tacos al pastor with a chef in Mexico City.
“Once we had a guy from the States, he was an opera singer. During the lunchtime he started singing. It was a beautiful moment and he was really talented. Everybody was astonished,” recalls Lorenzo. “There are a lot of small things that make our day very special. Every day is different. Every day we always have something to remember.”
“Reviews!” adds Luca. “When we read the reviews we cry.”
“We had a priest come from Italy. He came in his priest collar, and was like 65 or 66. He told us he wasn’t going to do the drag queen transformation, he would just do the cooking class and enjoy it because he likes the drag queen world,” remembers Pedro. “He went to the makeup station and asked for just a wig, then asked for some lashes, and then full makeup. We even covered his eyebrows with glue and made new eyebrows. Powder, blush, contouring. He chose an amazing dress and heels. After a while he was a gorgeous drag queen having dinner with us.”
“My guests give me their time so I want to give something back. Something more. Each time I create something it depends on the people, sometimes they’re talkative or other times very shy. I think about their personalities,” says Tomok who offers Make creative makis + Japanese sauce in Tokyo. “Some people are here for a short time, and they chose me. So it’s a very important time. I want to make something really unique…I provide six different experiences. And people come back to try another one. This for me is very emotional.”
What is one thing you wish you knew before you started?
“Languages. A lot of languages. I speak 4 languages. I wish I could speak Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Filipino…But thankfully everybody speaks English,” says Raja. “They’re so nice, people traveling through Airbnb, and the people taking experiences. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. To be prepared to receive such love and caring from people, to give back as much as they give me.”
“To master the art of storytelling and interacting with different people. To open your heart, bring your full self and have fun. This is the most important thing,” says Sara, who hosts Paella in My Secret Garden in Barcelona, Spain.
What’s your best piece of advice for other cooking experience hosts?
“The best piece of advice for them is not to follow a guide, or book, or a paper, or rules. To give their cooking class. Every cooking class I’ve given for the last 10 years, even if I don’t remember the recipe, I just go around it and invent something. I literally tell people, look I don’t remember, let’s not Google it, but if you add sugar there, it’s going to be brilliant, trust me. People like that authenticity, they’re not going to judge you,” Pedro says. “After every cooking class guests get a link where they can download all the recipes. And I tell them I’m going to send that, so they’re not worried about memorizing. But my best advice would be to just not try following any rules in a cooking class.”
“To be really patient,” notes Raja. “Sometimes you get people who don’t know how to hold a knife. Don’t treat them as though they don’t know anything. Take them by the hand.”
“Just welcome people like members of your family, or like friends. Not as clients,” affirms Brahim.
“Be yourself. What we notice is that they want to stay with people. Regular people. Running their lives, doing what they love. Basically share during the experience and do what you really like to do,” says Lorenzo.
“In the beginning they come because they want to learn how to make pasta. After an hour everything changes. We start becoming friends with people,” adds Luca. “They will be part of your life. You became part of their life.”
Luca & Lorenzo run Cooking class in the Chianti Hills of Tuscany, where guests prepare different kinds of pasta from scratch, then make a traditional Italian dessert.
Brahim offers a Cooking class with a Moroccan family in Marrakech, where guests first have a traditional Moroccan breakfast, then visit a market to buy ingredients and make lunch.
Chef Raja, a professional instructor and culinary artist, hosts Make tacos al pastor with a chef in Mexico City, guests take a trip to the local market to buy ingredients, then prepare and eat tacos.
Pedro runs Drag Queens Cooking Class & Dinner Party in Lisbon, dresses in drag, leads a cooking class for guests, who also dress in drag for dinner and a show.
Tomok offers Make creative makis + Japanese sauce in Tokyo, leads guests on a walk through her neighborhood, then leads them in making creative fusion rolls and Japanese sauce.
Sara hosts Paella in My Secret Garden in Barcelona, where she leads guests in making her grandmother’s paella recipe.