Cooking on Airbnb Experiences are intimate gatherings where guests cook and eat meals with locals who treat them like family. Hosts share traditional recipes and give a taste of their culture through the flavors and stories behind each dish.
Airbnb cooking experience hosts are professional chefs, amateur cooks, and keepers of food traditions, who share a passion for their cuisine. They help guests from around the world feel connected, giving them access to unique places, food traditions, recipes, or culinary secrets.
We believe that every dish tells a story. Your story could involve family recipes, local cuisine, or your unique perspective on food. Through a cooking experience you’ll invite people to connect with you, your story, and your culture, through cooking and eating.
Interested in hosting your own cooking experience? Here are the main ingredients:
- Communal cooking and eating: Guests make connections with the host and each other by cooking together and sharing tasks. They enjoy their hard work by dining around a shared table.
- Passionate hosts: Some hosts have formal training, others have hands-on experience in the kitchen. They’re all passionate about food, are interested in sharing their story, and seek to foster connection.
- Unique venues: The venue and atmosphere are as much of a draw as the cuisine itself. You could host in a kitchen, a restaurant after-hours, or outside in farms, gardens, or around campfires.
- Ambiance: Successful cooking experiences are fun and relaxed. Small groups gather in intimate settings. The whole environment contributes to this feeling.
- Safety: No one wants to be sick on vacation. All cooking experiences must comply with Airbnb’s Guidelines for Safe Food Handling, developed based on the Pan American World Health Organization’s Five Keys to Safer Food program, as well as applicable local food safety standards and local laws.
Here’s a look at the other ingredients that make up a cooking experience:
To start creating your own cooking experience, think about the story you want to tell through your food. Consider how you hope to shift your guests’ perspectives, and which memories and tastes you want them to leave with.
Put yourself in their shoes: what’s special about you or your local area that someone traveling there might not know? What unique access are you able to provide? This could be ingredients guests don’t know, special flavors that have been passed down in your family for years, a unique grocery shop, or even your backyard where you grow vegetables. The real draw for potential guests is your unique background, story, or community. Something they can’t find anywhere else.
Get inspired by a host who brings guests into their family home in an ancient Etruscan village in Tuscany. Guests learn ancient and secret Etruscan recipes, start from scratch and use local materials to create a historical banquet together.
All cooking experiences include different levels of hands-on collaborative cooking followed by a shared meal, but maybe something more. You could include a market tour to shop for ingredients, or a farm or garden visit to pick ingredients. You could even add a cultural or artistic component. Think about your passions and what will make your experience memorable and unique.
One host, a Moroccan chef with 30 years of experience invites her guests to a cooking lesson from start to finish. She brings them to the market to choose ingredients, instructs them about traditional kitchen tools, then together they cook and eat a traditional meal.
Another host in Cuba combines a love of cuisine with music. Guests learn to cook in the local style and develop an understanding of when, why, and how each dish is prepared. While eating together they enjoy a show of traditional drums and dancing.
What moment do you want guests to remember the most from your experience? What’s the main thing you want them to take away? This memento could be a family tradition you will share with them, a cooking tip you want them to leave with, or a dish you know you want them to try at home. Think about this moment and plan your event around it. It could be as simple as placing the dish of food in the middle of the table with a flourish while guests collectively say “wow.”
Once you have a rough idea, spend some time building a basic outline of your cooking experience. Here’s where to begin:
Choose food that you know and are passionate about. Always think about your story–your menu should showcase it. Maybe there are special recipes that have been in your family for years, or you love to cook something that has a connection to your culture. This could mean a signature dish, a 3-course menu, or a 10-dish feast.
Keep track of prospected food costs, preparation times, process, and required equipment for each dish.
A host in Thailand brings guests to her organic garden to learn about the flora and fauna of the tropical climate, how herbs grow and how to harvest them. Later she leads a cooking class with local ingredients. The group creates four traditional dishes and then sits down to eat together.
Think about how you’d like your guests to follow the recipes with you. In order to maintain a casual and social atmosphere we recommend that during the experience you focus on the story behind the recipe, tips and tricks, hands-on participation, and demonstration of meaningful techniques. You can always send the detailed recipes to your guests after the event (translated and including the exact measurements) or hand them out right after as a giveaway.
What equipment will you need for your cooking experience? Make a list. Not only for you, but also your guests. Will they be sharing tools, or will you have individual setups for everyone? Consider the feeling your guests will have if they’re sharing or not.
Finding the right venue to host your cooking experience is essential for the success of your event. Think outside of the box, it doesn’t have to be a traditional cooking school class. Seek out an intimate location that holds meaning for you or your community, or one that’s close to meaningful local landmarks. Think about about guest comfort, and make sure there’s enough space for everyone to cook together. The atmosphere should be inviting, and of course cleanliness is a must.
Remember that local regulations and safety requirements may apply to your cooking experience, so be sure you are familiar with them before you host. Visit the responsible hosting center to learn more about regulations that may apply to your experience as well as other things to think about.
Supportive guest engagement
Map out the flow of your experience, from welcoming your guests, to the cooking process. Plan in detail how you’ll divide tasks, and also how you’ll time everything so it’s ready when you need it to be. Determine where the meal will take place and how you’ll conclude the experience.
Think about ways to get your guests engaged. Remember that some tasks are more involved than others, so you can allow guests to choose how much involvement they want to have during the experience. Some participants may have more enthusiasm than others. You can always engage the guests who are less interested in cooking by helping you plate or set the table. They can even make their own cocktails. Plan ahead–have a list of ice breakers or other connection activities in your back pocket.
Now that you know the criteria for a cooking experience, and have some direction on where to start, browse current listings from around the world for more inspiration and create your experience. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.