I was inspired by this idea when a friend of mine actually demoed a simple guacamole recipe for her mom. She thought it would be fun to pretend to be cooking show host while her mom was the ‘audience’. My friend went through the recipe step-by-step, provided tips on how to prepare the world’s best guac, and gave her mom a taste of the finished product at the end. It reminded me of Mario Batali’s cooking show (featured above) where he describes the ingredients, the process of putting it all together, and (best of all) gives the audience members sitting at the bar a taste of what he’s prepared.
I think this activity can be readily adapted for someone with dementia with a little bit of creativity. For example, you could hand the person the garlic or cilantro to smell the aroma. Have them taste just the plain mashed avocado before other ingredients are added. Ask the person to help stir the ingredients together in the bowl. Or ask them to lay out tortilla chips on a plate for dipping. Say you are trying our a new recipe and it would really help if they could be your taste-tester. Be flexible and find what works for you and your person!
I like that it gives the ‘audience member’ the option to interject comments or otherwise add to the interaction, but they are not pressured to do so. Depending on the person, they might be involved more passively, however, they are still being engaged throughout the entire process. But be ready in case your person would like to jump in and have a suitable activity in mind (such as the suggestions above). Do most of the prep work in advance before getting the person involved, so it is mostly a matter of assembling things together (e.g. chop garlic beforehand, open and scoop out avocado) — make sure your mise en place up to par! It is also best if you can use a clean and clutter-free counter space for this activity. Set out only the items that you will be using, and remove anything that will just get in the way or create clutter. Simplify, simplify!