Meet the college senior who's offering a crash course on food and relationships.
College Senior Andrew Jack was just trying to make a few extra bucks to help pay his way through school. In addition to running his own catering business, and working as a cook in fine dining establishments throughout the Madison, WI area, he began teaching private cooking lessons to the clients that sought him out for his expertise.
What he found was that 95 percent of his students were taking lessons in order to impress a potential significant other. A year and tons of satisfied clients later, Andrew is now bringing his crash course on food and relationships, Cooking For Dates, to the public, which promises to provide daters with all of the information they need to pull off meals that will win over their new love interests — from how to decide what to cook, to back up plans, and even the most common mistakes made in cooking (and dating) — and what you can do to avoid them.
YourTango: When did you first realize that your clients were taking lessons in order to impress a date?
Andrew Jack: I was teaching a lesson at a guy's house, and everything was going well, until suddenly he wanted me to leave just as we were finishing. On my way out, I saw a girl who was all dressed up heading toward his apartment. I texted him asking about it, and he admitted he had hired me to teach him to cook a meal in order to impress her.
YT: Why do you think that love motivates people to learn how to cook?
AJ: Food is a commonality for everyone, because we all have to eat! Business meetings happen over lunch, milestones like birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated over dinner. There's something hardwired into people that says, when you're making food, you're providing for someone. It's a really attractive quality, and I think that people inherently know that.
Also, you always want to impress someone on a date, and learning how to make a recipe is quicker to master than something like learning how to play a song for a girl on a guitar, which could take hundreds of hours. With cooking, you can make a really simple caprese salad, or throw together a pasta dish by just following an online video tutorial.
YT: When did you start helping your clients with their dating lives?
AJ: My client and friend Eric had known his now girlfriend Lauren forever, but he was too shy to make a first move. Eric had been taking classes from me, and one night after I had finished teaching him how to make a new recipe, I had Lauren's girlfriends tell her to show up at Eric's place once the meal was made. The next morning they were dating, Facebook official and everything, and I knew that I was on to something here.
YT: How soon is too soon to cook for a date?
AJ: Everyone has their rules about what you can and can't do depending on what number date it is, but the way I approach it is to gauge how comfortable you are with your date. If it's someone you've known for a while, cooking on a first date might be totally fine, but if you met someone at a bar one night and spoke for 30 minutes, you probably don't want to invite them over right away.
YT: What's a good go-to recipe to make for a date?
AJ: Try making chocolate ganache with strawberries in a wine glass, and top it with whip cream. It's less cliché than the average chocolate covered strawberry, but it's still sexy. It's also really easy to make. If you can boil a pot of cream, you can make a chocolate ganache dessert.
YT: Should you wait until your date shows up to start cooking? Or should you get started without them?
AJ: It depends on how long you want the date to last. If you're just making an early dinner before heading out, have most of it done, and do the most impressive part of it as your date is walking in. If making the meal is the main focus of the date, you can start once your date gets there.
YT: How involved should your date be in cooking with you?
AJ: I'd let your date decide. Depending on their level of experience in the kitchen, they might be intimidated, or not want to look stupid if something gets messed up. Having your date help by doing little things such as washing vegetables is always a safe bet.
YT: What if you mess up?!
AJ: This is where the dating coach part of Cooking for Dates really comes in. You want to be confident while you're cooking for someone, and having a backup plan will help you do that. Being able to whip out that chocolate ganache dessert that you have ready to go in your fridge will make you less nervous about messing up whatever you're cooking. When you're self-assured about the food you're making (and in your backup plan), you'll come off that way to your date.
Also, how the food turns out isn't necessarily the most important part. The overall experience of cooking together is what's ultimately going to win your date over. If you are confident, keep the date fun and interactive, and follow the guidelines laid out in the Cooking for Dates course, your date will be a success.