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COAST TO COAST

How This Live Cooking Show Broadened Its Audience Appeal

The Taste of Home food media brand will host 50 events in 2017 in cities across the United States.

By Mitra Sorrells April 20, 2017, 7:15 AM EDT

Interactive elements have been added to the new Taste of Home Live event series, including the opportunity for some audience members to join the chefs on stage during the 90-minute show.

Photo: Jim Wieland

For nearly 70 years, Taste of Home has hosted live cooking demonstrations in dozens of cities across the country. Tuesday night the media company, which publishes magazines and cookbooks filled with professionally tested user-generated recipes, kicked off a new national touring event, Taste of Home Live, at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee. Unlike the original Taste of Home Cooking School events, this new series is intended to be more interactive and entertaining, with elements intended to engage millennial food enthusiasts.

“With the taste of the Taste of Home Cooking School model we were marketing more to an older audience. It just came naturally—our audience aged and we aged our marketing with that to continue to speak to the same consumer. What we are doing with Taste of Home Live is we are speaking to all of our age brackets,” said Donna Lindskog, Taste of Home Media Group’s publisher. “So where Taste of Home Cooking School perhaps we didn’t have a large social footprint … with Taste of Home Live we are utilizing our huge social footprint.”

New elements include a preshow cocktail hour and post-show dessert party and the use of high-energy music and videos during the three-act, 90-minute stage show. Also to encourage guests to share their experience on social media, organizers will select a small group of attendees who post photos with the hashtag #TOHLive to sit at the chef’s table on stage and sample each recipe that is prepared. Products from sponsors Eggland’s Best, Jones Dairy Farm, the National Honey Board, and LT Foods’ Royal rice will be incorporated into the recipes chef prepare during the show.

“Now our sponsors are interwoven throughout the entire show. These are the brands we use in our test kitchen, so our chefs can easily convey the points of difference and why these brands are the best in their field,” Lindskog said.

In addition to live demonstrations and tastings, the events include a merchandise area, and 10 percent of sales will go to the local Feeding America chapter in each city.

There are 10 Taste of Home Live events scheduled during the next four weeks and then at least 40 more planned for this fall. Lindskog said they will do at least 50 shows in 2018, possibly more based on what they learn this year. “We’re leaving that open, but the goal is to have two strong seasons, a spring season and a fall season,” she said.

Taste of Home has partnered with WME-IMG’s Fusion Marketing agency to plan, execute, and promote the local events, which are being held in hotels in each market. IHeartMedia is the national media partner.

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