Let Virtual Cooking Classes Transport Your Menus
Story by Sandra Gordon
If the pandemic has driven your home cooking into a rut, venture into tastier territory with a virtual cooking class. Right from your own kitchen, virtual cooking classes are an antidote to fatigue. Find inspiration and gain know-how to transform your meals into a flavorful and exotic culinary journey.
Here’s a delicious round-up of some upcoming virtual cooking classes for home cooks of all experience levels.
Indian Cuisine with Supriya
From her Short Hills, New Jersey kitchen, Supriya Naybar offers virtual cooking classes featuring the colorful and aromatic spices and tantalizing flavors of Mumbai, India, where she grew up.
Author of Innovative Indian Cuisine, Naybar is a self-taught cook with a Master’s degree in nutrition from Columbia University. She applies her nutrition knowledge in her classes to adapt traditional Indian cuisine—such as chicken curry, soups, chutneys and sauces—to create healthy, light, easy–to–prepare dishes that delight the senses and nourish the body.
“In my classes, we talk, share cooking stories, drink wine, and after we finish making the meal, we eat,” she says. “I make Indian food accessible, delicious and nutritious.”
Class Length: 40 to 60 minutes (for one or two dishes); 2 to 3 hours for a complete meal
Cost: $20 to $25 per person for one or two dishes; $50 per person for a whole meal (four dishes, including dessert)
Learn More & Sign Up: Supriya’s Kitchen
Flexitarian Cooking with Chef Ann Ogden Gaffney
Ann Ogden Gaffney offers healthy, plant-based and flexitarian cooking classes on Zoom from her New York City home kitchen. “We’ll cook mostly plant-based foods, though I do sometimes use dairy, fish and poultry as they have a place in a balanced diet,” she says.
Gaffney, a self-taught cook, is English with an Italian mother. She lived in Paris for 12 years and has traveled extensively in Italy and Asia. “My influences are European, English, Italian, Spanish, French, Indian and some Japanese,” she says.
Gaffney’s Zoom cooking classes aren’t boot camps; they’re relaxed, educational, and feature flavorful, nutrient-rich recipes, such as Tuscan red onion soup, endive and watercress salad with a classic mustard vinaigrette, date– and walnut–stuffed baked apples. “If you cook along with me, you’ll end up with a great dinner for the family,” she says. “I bring in my arsenal of experience to make healthy ingredients taste really good.” Sign up for a class and beforehand you’ll receive a grocery list as well as a list of cooking equipment and items needed for the class.
Class Length: 60 to 75 minutes
Cost: $30 to $50
Learn More & Sign Up: Ann Ogden Gaffney
Thai Cooking with Chef Vanda
Vanda Asapahu learned Thai cooking while growing up in her family’s Los Angeles restaurant, Ayara Thai. The restaurant features dishes passed down from Asapahu’s grandmother, a chef in the Grand Palace in Thailand who also owned a curry shop on the banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. But it wasn’t until Chef Vanda lived and traveled in Thailand for five years for work that she truly learned to appreciate the complexities of the cuisine by tasting and talking with local food vendors and grandmothers in Thailand’s most southern and northern tips.
“My mission in my Thai Zoom cooking classes is to not recreate what we cook at the restaurant,” she says, “but to help you understand basic Thai cooking strategies that I’ve grown to understand.”
Kicking off 2021, you can master Thai curry paste on January 16 and 23. In February spend four Saturdays focused on making guay tiew, the noodles of Thailand, and classic Thai noodle dishes, including pan fries, curry noodles, and noodle salads. “Thai cooking is all about layering in salty, sweet, sour, astringent and spicy ingredients,” says Chef Vanda. “Be prepared to taste and adjust as you go along to achieve that complexity of flavor.”
Class length: 2 hours
Cost: $100 for January’s two-class series (Jan. 16 & 23, 2021); $200 for February’s four-class series (Feb. 6, 13, 20 & 27, 2021). Fee includes Zoom cooking class, access to a private Facebook group/community, and list of Thai or alternative ingredients and equipment to have on hand by class day.
Learn More & Sign Up: Ayara Thai
Hawaiian–Inspired Seafood with Chef Kevin Bell
Join Chef Kevin Bell from his home in Maui for an evening of food and flavors heavily influenced by the Hawaiian Islands. “I am French trained, so classic technique is at the core of my cooking and what I teach in class,” he says. “My time on Maui has brought on a strong respect for pan-Asian flavors that highlight the flavors of Hawaii.” On the menu for Chef Bell’s virtual classes, which cater to all levels of home cooks, is seared ahi tuna with lemongrass ginger rice, roasted vegetables and mango coconut curry sauce, pasta primavera with mango glazed mahi mahi, plus rosemary and pineapple–glazed pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables.
Chef Bell’s cooking Zoom classes are private, small group events customized to ensure that all participants have access to the ingredients. Before class, you’ll be sent a shopping list of ingredients with specific measurements and steps.
For many of Chef Bell’s events, fresh orchid leis can be drop–shipped from Maui so you can be in full Maui spirit upon request. Travellustre can also Zoom in Maui ukulele player Andrew Molina, to set the Aloha spirit before Chef Kevin begins.
Chef Bell, who also offers in-person classes, launched his cooking career in 2009 with a food truck in Portland, Oregon and no cooking experience. After selling that successful business, he began formal training at the French Culinary Institute in New York City, which led to stints at Gramercy Tavern, where he learned to work with each season’s fresh ingredients. Chef Bell then honed his technique at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, California, under the influence of Chef Thomas Keller before arriving on Maui to launch restaurants and Farm to Fridge, Bell’s private chef service. “I love to teach technique,” he says. “It allows for more creativity, which means more fun!”
Class Length: 90 minutes
Price: $700 to $1,500 depending on number of participants
Learn More & Sign Up: Travellustre
Dinner Party Favorites
Chris Wessely, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, offers virtual cooking classes designed to make you feel like a hero at your post-pandemic dinner party. The classes are available through JAM, a global remote events service, which hosts events for corporate teams, families, friends, and school groups all over the world.
Chef Wessely graduated top of his 2011 class from the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. His step-by-step instruction is designed appeal to both beginners and advanced culinarians. You’ll learn to perfect special occasion, dinner party fare such as tropical mahi-mahi and Mai Tais, brick oven pizza, buttery Indian naan from scratch, flank steak tacos and margaritas, perfect steaks, burgers, Mexi-Cali fish tacos, and Japanese tonkatsu.
You can purchase the ingredients in advance and make the dishes during class with Chef Wessely’s step–by–step instructions or just watch the chef in action. You’ll be provided with the recipe and a recording of the session, so you can make the recipes yourself on your own time and at your own pace.
Class Length & Cost: Option 1—Everyone Cooks, 90 minutes, $1200 for up to 20 people; Option 2—Viewing Only, 60 to 75 minutes, $800 for up to 20 people plus $20 for each additional participant.
Learn More & Sign Up: JAM
Plant-Based Mindful Cooking & Eating
Chef Abigail Hitchcock, a Food Network’s Chopped alum and owner of Abigail’s Kitchen in New York City, and Lindsey Pearson, CEO/founder of Do You Mind (Fully)?, will host a plant-based cooking class and mindful dining experience from 6 to 9 p.m. EST on January 16, 2021.
Led by Chef Abby, the online class will feature teaching tips and best practices for a healthy and delicious three-course meal. Class will begin with an introduction to the menu and a discussion of the recipes before diving into meal preparation. “I aim to make cooking accessible and fun,” says Chef Abby. “I lace science into all my classes. It makes you a better cook if you understand what is happening in the pan and why.”
Ahead of time, you will receive recipes and a prep list. “It’s important you cook along with us as opposed to just watching,” says Chef Abby, a graduate of Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School, now the Institute of Culinary Education.
“When it’s time to eat, I will offer guided practice on how to engage with and experience your food in a way that feels nourishing, satisfying, and connected,” says Lindsey.
Class Date: January 16, 2021, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM EST
Class Length: 90 minutes
Cost: $75 per person
Learn More & Sign Up: Abigail’s Kitchen NYC
Sandra Gordon has been writing about food, travel, health and medicine from her home office in Stamford, Connecticut since long before working from home was cool.