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12 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.

April 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.

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Top Comment:
“It seems like not long ago there were a dozen channels that had shows about cooking; now there's really only one (Create TV)- and a bunch of channels showing endless preposterous contests ( can you make a dessert in 14 minutes with a cube of butter and a bucket of abalone elbows? Who cares?) and even more preposterous shows about people driving around the country eating 40lb. deep fried sandwiches and exclaiming about how great they are.”
— Smaug
Comment

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.
  • Cookbook author, professional Fixer Upper, and all-around star Joanna Gaines recently started a Quarantine Cooking series on YouTube. Her first recipe? Naturally, one of everyone's favorite comfort foods—chocolate chip cookies. Also: the Gaines family's tried-and-true chili, zucchini bread, French silk pie, and many more from the new Magnolia Table cookbook.
  • 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.
  • Christina Tosi, beloved confectionary queen with one of the biggest imaginations we know, has been whipping up sweet treets of all sorts in her daily Baking Club on Instagram. She shows you all of the ingredients needed beforehand without revealing what the treat is, then surprises us with it live at 2 p.m. EST each day, walking us through the method step-by-step.
  • 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!
  • Kwame Onwuachi, James Beard award-winning chef, has taken to Instagram to post and demo healthful 20-minute dinners featuring easy-to-find ingredients. He's also using his platform to share ways to support restaurants and other local businesses—a worthy follow, no matter how you slice it.
  • London's Borough Market, featuring makers and grocers of all stripes, has a robust slate of online offerings during these isolated times, including a free cooking demo conducted on Instagram live every day at 1 p.m. GMT, through at least Apr. 30. They also have a growing Facebook community and a digital cookbook club conducted over Zoom. The latter is ticketed, and non-complimentary, but the rest of the offerings are free and open to the public.
  • 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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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lisa Garcia
    Lisa Garcia
  • Shikha Kaiwar
    Shikha Kaiwar
  • Smaug
    Smaug
  • gideon bronte
    gideon bronte
Comment
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.

4 Comments

Lisa G. April 26, 2020
Hannah Messinger does a weekly game on Mondays called "Pantry Raid" where people send in their ingredients and she gives them things to cook based on what they have. She shares it on her stories so others can follow along. She is a super inventive knowledgable food writer based in Nashville. She's been doing Pantry Raid for ages and its been fun following along all of this time.
https://www.instagram.com/hmmessinger/
 
Shikha K. April 24, 2020
I'm a pastry chef and writer based in San Francisco and just launched my own virtual classes for galette making! I'm teaching sweet and savory mini galettes, and so excited to share them!

Class link: https://bit.ly/SLMclass
My blog: shikhalamode.com
 
Smaug April 23, 2020
I wonder what ever happened to cooking on TV. It seems like not long ago there were a dozen channels that had shows about cooking; now there's really only one (Create TV)- and a bunch of channels showing endless preposterous contests ( can you make a dessert in 14 minutes with a cube of butter and a bucket of abalone elbows? Who cares?) and even more preposterous shows about people driving around the country eating 40lb. deep fried sandwiches and exclaiming about how great they are.
 
gideon B. March 23, 2020
thanks for sharing all these great resources