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8 Chef-Taught Online Classes to Help You Cook, Draw, Write & More

Best part is they're completely free—and, yes, you can show up in your pajamas.

March 23, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten

The past few days have felt both fast and slow as our brains negotiate a tug of war between the fog of overwhelm and the call to work (if we’re lucky) from home. I know I’m not alone in having passed hours on social media looking for news as much as diversion—as much as someone to talk to, to be in conversation with.

But there have been undeniable bright spots in this spooky milieu.

Yo-Yo Ma is playing “songs for comfort” on his Instagram. The Metropolitan Opera in New York City, closed to the public until further notice, is streaming opera performances online nightly. Others are teaching whoever is watching to cook with whatever you might happen to have stocked, panic-stricken, in the pantry and fridge.

In YouTube videos, Instagram Stories, and on Twitter, these moments feel like a friendly burst of human-to-human contact, intimate in the way they could only be when shot in an actual home kitchen for similarly stuck-at-home audience; intimate in the way of texting your cooking-est friend for thoughts about what to do with a big jar of kimchi, a sack of split peas, a quart of buttermilk. They’re a small reminder that we’re all in the same, strange boat, at home in our socks and comfy pants, cooking through our dry goods.

Cooking in self-isolation hardly means cooking alone. Here are just some of the folks inviting us into their kitchens online. (And we'd love to hear about any others you've come across!)

  • Antoni Porowski, of Queer Eye fame, is posting ad-hoc cooking videos on Instagram that he’s calling "Quar [as in, "quarantine"] Eye."
  • Over on Twitter, chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio is sharing and collecting tips for cooking through your stores (and answering questions, too). Follow along at #cookinginacrisis—and be sure to check out his coverage of how restaurants are being affected by COVID-19 while you’re there.
  • Instagram direct-message Julia Turshen the contents of your fridge and pantry and she’ll share ideas for what to make with them. (She’s saved all of her tips so far to her Instagram Stories, so you can see the ideas she’s already shared for cooking with rutabagas, bok choy, and even chestnut cream.) She’s also leading a live daily food-writing course on Instagram, for kids and adults, every weekday at 2 p.m. EST.
  • Jill Donenfeld, founder of New York-based private-chefing agency The Culinistas, is chatting live at 2 p.m. EST on Instagram to help you decide what to make from your pantry.
  • Massimo Bottura, chef of the three-Michelin-star Osteria Francescana, is teaching live “Kitchen Quarantine” cooking classes on his Instagram daily at 8 p.m. CET (that’s 3 p.m. EST) with his family in tow.
  • Samin Nosrat just launched, with Hrishikesh Hirway (whose name you might know from the podcast Song Exploder), an “emergency podcast” called Home Cooking that’s all about helping you figure out what to cook whatever you’ve got on hand. You can send your cooking questions in writing or by voice memo to [email protected] She’s also suggested that she might do regular cooking classes for kids “of all ages” on Instagram—so watch that space!
  • Little Sous is a monthly delivery-box cooking club for kids based in Portland, Oregon. But you don’t have to have a box subscription to follow their 20 Days of Kitchen Activities program on Instagram: For 20 days, they’ll be posting kitchen activities to do with at-home kids while you’re all tucked away inside together.
  • Speaking of kids, illustrator Wendy MacNaughton, whose drawings you know from Samin’s cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, isn’t teaching cooking—but she is leading extremely delightful daily half-hour drawing classes for out-of-school kids. She goes live at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST).

Last but not least, don’t forget Food52’s own Hotline (plus, our new ask-us-anything texting service!) to find the answer to any kind of kitchen and home query you’ve got.

What online resources—cooking-related, or otherwise—are helping you get through this period at home? Let us know in the comments.

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Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.

1 Comment

gideon B. March 23, 2020
thanks for sharing all these great resources