Restaurants have closed around the country, and that means many of us are spending much more time in the kitchen than usual. By the time the quarantine comes to an end, the silver lining is that we may all be much better cooks. Beyond endless recipe searching online, however, sometimes you need actual instruction to really up your skills, and that’s where virtual cooking classes come in. There’s never been a better time to learn how to perfect a French omelette, decorate a cake, or bake your own bread—and thanks to these six companies, you can do so without leaving the house. If you’re trapped inside with your SO, you can even make it a fun date night.
Chef & The Dish
You can travel virtually into the kitchens of top chefs from Italy, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Thailand and more without changing out of your sweats, if you like—just don’t forget your apron. Book private, one-on-one lessons by first selecting the class you’re interested in (classes last about 2.5 hours and cost $299 for two people). Then, you’ll have a kitchen prep session with a kitchen assistant, who helps you organize your tools and ingredients before you’re paired with a chef to whip up a meal together. Beyond what’s happening on your stove, you’ll also make a new friend: For example, you might bake baklava with a Turkish chef who’ll then show you her pomegranate trees growing outside, or paella with a Spanish chef who can also tell you about what’s happening with the quarantine in his country. In light of the current situation, Chef & The Dish just launched a new limited-time series called “What’s In Your Fridge?”, a one-hour class ($99 for two people) where you’re paired with a surprise chef from anywhere in the world who will ask you to open your fridge and pantry and teach you how to make a main dish with whatever ingredients you have on hand.
This online culinary school has trained cooking staff for corporations like Whole Foods, Marriott Hotels & Resorts and Wegmans, and also offers two options for home cooks: both a subscription membership and curriculum-driven courses. While they aren’t one-on-one, the classes are filled with so many useful ways to build your skills—whether you want to learn to make restaurant-quality steaks, master different egg preparations, get started with plant-based cooking or finally learn how and when to use different kinds of knives. Right now, Rouxbe is offering free 30-day memberships, which grant you access to all kinds of technique courses, a food safety course, live events with chef instructors and 75 lessons (after 30 days, it’s $9.99 per month).
America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School
You can choose from 230 courses in the virtual cooking class library from the chefs who appear on the TV show by the same name. Learn to do things like bake buttery kouign-amann pastries, steam rich Asian dumplings and prepare easy weeknight meals (like Mediterranean-spiced chicken with pistachios, Brussels sprouts and pomegranate). The platform (free for 14 days, then $19.95 per month after that) allows you to add your own notes and photos as you move through recipes so you can track your progress. There’s also an option to work one-on-one with expert instructors ($39.95 per month) to receive feedback on how you’re doing. And just this week, ATK’s kids’ channel launched daily lesson plans and videos for parents at home with children.
During this time, Tastemade—a global company creating food programming for platforms from social media channels to TV shows—is offering free access to all three seasons of its most-watched show, “Struggle Meals,” via the Tastemade app. You can learn cost-saving tips for making recipes like tomato tarts and chickpea salads through each 20-minute episode (and cook alongside the hosts, too), with the majority of dishes coming in at less than $2 a serving. And this week, the company started live-streaming daily cooking and shopping demos with chef host Frankie Celenza, who is under his own quarantine in Idaho; he’s answering questions from audiences on Facebook and Twitter, too.
The mission behind launching Fēst last summer was to not only give home cooks the opportunity to hone their skills in the kitchen through virtual, live classes, but to also help chefs and sommeliers share their talent while earning extra income from teaching. This premise has never been more relevant, with restaurant and bar closures around the country putting many in the food industry out of work. In response, Fēst is still running classes as usual (i.e., gingery chicken and Parmesan polenta), during which you can engage with chefs in video calls—and also donating 100 percent of the profits for every booked class to the Food Bank of New York City. They’ve also launched a class similar to what Chef & The Dish is doing called “What’s In Your Fridge?” ($58 for 90 minutes) where you email a photo of the ingredients you have and a chef will come up with a recipe prior to class.
Ever wanted to learn to decorate a cake as fancily (and as easily) as those fast-motion Instagram videos make it look? Now’s your chance through CakeFlix, which is based in Spain and offers more than 1,000 online cake decorating courses, plus a new feature-length tutorial every week. Main tutor Paul Bradford—who’s made cakes for the Queen—and 65 cake artists around the world teach skills for beginner to professional decorators. Right now, the company is discounting memberships by half (to $29.95 per month for all-inclusive Pro tier) in light of COVID-19, and also launched live cake demos on its website and Facebook page on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Due to launch May 1: a formally accredited, approved educational certificate in cake decorating—something to work toward in your spare time.