The COVID-19 pandemic turned many industries upside down. Among those affected, restaurants and the food industry experienced upheaval few could have predicted. Businesses adapted, though, and instead of customers coming to them, they came to the customers. The result: A rise in virtual cooking classes.
It’s one thing to read a recipe online and rely on photos and text to guide you through the steps. It’s an entirely different experience when you can visualize how to make a dish through a recorded video or hands-on virtual class. We’ll walk you through the different types of virtual cooking classes, what you can expect and the options to choose from online.
Types of virtual cooking classes
The online cooking classes you’ll find fall into three main categories. Each type has its benefits depending on your individual needs, goals and time constraints.
Pre-recorded cooking classes
These types of classes are for families on the go or couples and individuals with busy schedules. The beauty of pre-recorded classes? You can watch them on your own time, whether that’s after picking up the kids from school or early on a Saturday morning.
Pre-recorded videos skyrocketed in popularity long before COVID-19. You’re probably familiar with the short-snippet cooking videos you see on Facebook that give you step-by-step instructions via an overhead camera. Usually paired with music, the videos are visually appealing and encourage spontaneity to try whichever dish you view that day.
Pre-recorded virtual cooking classes are much more refined. In fact, many of the tutorials offer unmatched expertise from a celebrity personality or award-winning chef. These chefs are often too busy to participate in cooking demonstrations, so filming a batch of pre-recorded classes offers more flexibility for both parties. Plus, you’ll have access to the videos whenever you need them.
Live cooking courses
These cooking courses are more personal than a pre-recorded guide on how to make a certain dish. Live virtual cooking classes can vary from 1-on-1 sessions to large group settings.
At the advent of COVID-19, many live cooking demos started on Zoom, but they have branched off to just about any type of video platform. Chefs and cooking bloggers host scheduled or impromptu cooking classes on Instagram, a platform that allows followers to interact with the host in an informal setting. Scheduled classes generally come with a fee. In return, you can ask questions and share stories in a more intimate environment. Live virtual cooking classes are popular choices for couples celebrating a romantic evening and have become trendy gift ideas for birthdays, anniversaries or date nights.
Virtual cooking classes with ingredients delivered
Think of this category as a combination of a live cooking class with a meal delivery service. Pre-portioned dinner kits are growing by the year. Chefs and cooks took this idea and used it to complement virtual classes by allowing customers to purchase ingredients from them to make the dish.
Dinner kits work well for people who don’t have the time to stop at four different grocery stores to find ingredients for one dish. This model often works best for signature dishes from local restaurants. For example, an Indian restaurant could ship hard-to-find spices to your doorstep.
Benefits of online cooking classes
Even with all the negatives surrounding in-person dining and the inability to enjoy food in social settings during COVID-19, the industry has used virtual cooking classes to open up a new dimension of food exploration.
For starters, virtual cooking classes became the perfect respite for people looking to break up the monotony of quarantine. More free time meant more time for discovering food trends.
Beyond that, virtual cooking classes offer a different experience than in-person events. Sure, you lose the hands-on coaching of a cooking class and, no, your teacher doesn’t have the ability to taste your food or correct a mistake. But, it allows freedom, flexibility and comfort. You know your own kitchen better than anyone.
It’s also easier on the hosts who don’t have to buy ingredients or rent a space. In the case of virtual classes, you’re paying for a chef’s intimate food knowledge. And as we mentioned, many classes are recorded and archived for future use, meaning you can continue to perfect your recipe.
The beauty of virtual learning is the limitless options available, from cooking 101 to advanced baking classes. You can learn how to filet a whole fish, cook an 18-hour smoked brisket or a simple loaf of broad. The fact that it’s online and virtual allows for exposure to even more cuisines and food styles. For example, there may not be many brick-and-mortar locations offering vegan cooking classes, but you can find those on the internet. There are even classes on wine and cocktails for those with different preferences.
Online cooking courses to try
One of the perks of online cooking courses is the sheer volume of options. Simply type your food interests into Google, and there’s a high likelihood you’ll find a cooking class for you. Here are some of the more popular options to try.
Sur La Table
Sur La Table is an upscale cooking and dining supplier with brick-and-mortar locations across the country. In Oklahoma City, the company has a store at Classen Curve. Sur La Table offers in-store cooking classes as well as online cooking classes.
The hands-on interactive Zoom class options start at $29. Your experienced teacher will guide you through recipes of your choosing, including Thai, Indian, Italian, Chinese and French cuisines.
During the pandemic, Airbnb created “online experiences,” allowing customers to recreate travel memories in their own homes.
For example, you could take a virtual trip to a small town in Italy by buying a class with Nonna (grandmother in Italian). For $42, you receive a shopping list, wine pairings and an interactive lesson on how to make various pastas and sauces. You also have the opportunity to cook virtually with a Moroccan family for $14 or learn how to make macaroons in Paris from a pastry chef for $21.
Udemy is an online learning and teaching marketplace with anything from pet training to cooking tutorials. The cooking classes are pre-recorded and sortable under various categories and filters.
Some classes include artisan bread making, how to brew beer at home and how to master the art of Indian cooking. Prices range from $13 to upwards of $100 for week-long courses.
Much like Udemy, MasterClass is an online learning center for various industries and professions, including cooking. As the name suggests, the classes feature chefs who are masters at their trade. The list of chefs includes Gordan Ramsey, Thomas Keller, Massimo Bottura and Wolfgang Puck.
These pre-recorded videos cater to food lovers interested in reaching new culinary heights, whether that’s elevated certain kitchen skills or learning how to smoke an award-winning brisket. The classes are available through a monthly $15 subscription.
Cozymeal has many interactive classes for cooks of all experience levels, such as how to build a charcuterie board or make a cheesecake. It’s not limited to only recipes, either.
There’s a class on how to use plating techniques to create a visually stunning dish. Cozymeal even has a class teaching you how to use certain fruits and vegetables to boost your immunity.
Many of these classes start at $29 or $39 per device. For an additional fee, you also have the option of paying to ship the ingredients to your door. Classes can reach $199 for weekly series, such as a three-week series on going vegan where you learn how to cook with quinoa, chickpeas and various vegetables.
America’s Test Kitchen
This popular TV show that tests recipes in a real-life kitchen has created an educational online resource center for people looking to learn more about cooking. America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School falls under the pre-recorded category using a subscription-based model that grants you access to 320-plus courses.
The platform teaches you how to perfect certain methods in addition to a host of recipes. You can learn how to sauté foods, use spices in dishes and create easy sauces. The online cooking school costs $20 per month or $180 for the year.
This new competitor in the online cooking marketplace created a user-friendly model where they ship you the ingredients. The process is simple and straightforward.
You choose a class from a searchable list of cuisines, culinary regions or cooking styles. Cuiline then ships you pre-measured pantry items on your shopping list. Then, the day before or the day of, you’re responsible for fresh ingredients if the recipe calls for fruits, vegetables or a protein.
For more cooking tips and recipes, visit the On Your Health blog.
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