Online cooking lessons soar in popularity during COVID-19 distancing

Hot Thai Kitchen is one place for web-based culinary instruction, the Vancouver-based YouTube channel having recently surpassed 1 million viewers

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      Being home to so many outstanding chefs and such exceptional food, B.C. is also full of fabulous options when it comes to cooking classes. With COVID-19, however, many schools have ceased operations while others have adapted to the world of virtual learning. Still other sources have been thriving online all along.

      Here are a few places to learn new recipes and cooking techniques within the safety of your own kitchen.

      Hot Thai Kitchen

      Thai-born Vancouver chef Pailin Chongchitnant is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and author of Hot Thai Kitchen: Demystifying Thai Cuisine With Authentic Recipes to Make at Home. Host of the TV series One World Kitchen on Gusto TV, she also has a YouTube channel, where her cooking show Hot Thai Kitchen recently surpassed 1 million subscribers. Follow her there to learn how to make everything from Pad Makeua Yao, an eggplant stir fry with Thai basil served with rice, to Gaeng Ped Bped Yang, a red-curry dish with barbecued duck and pineapple. She posts a new video every Friday. Pai’s Kitchen is her other show, where she shares how-to videos of dishes from other parts of the world.

      Brewery & the Beast Homeschool Series

      The crazily summertime popular craft beer and sustainable meat festival gathers some of the province’s best chefs and bartenders and sells out every year. Scott Gurney, founder of 17 Black Events, which produces BATB and other culinary events, is connecting home cooks with past participants through Brewery & the Beast’s Homeschool Series.

      Each week, a different chef-and-bartender duo will join you and host Gurley from the comfort of their own homes via Zoom to hang out and share recipes, via live cooking and cocktail-making demonstration. Classes take place Thursdays at 6 p.m. and cost $10. Once you register in advance, you receive the link and the recipes so you can get the requisite ingredients and create alongside the pros. Partial proceeds benefit the chef, bartender, and a hospitality charity of their choice.

      The most recent episode featured Wolf in the Fog executive chef Nick Nutting and bartender Ken Gifford tuning in from Tofino. Future guests include Roy’s Korean Kitchen’s Roy Oh, SAIT’s Madeline MacDonald, Toptable Group’s Kristian Eligh, and Elisa’s Katie Ingram.

      Chef's Table

      Fable Kitchen chef/owner Trevor Bird is hosting live, virtual cooking classes while supporting people in need, with all proceeds from Chef's Table going to Food Coalition YVR. The local collective of restaurants is providing meals to people in the Downtown Eastside and other vulnerable citizens.
      The classes run every Friday from 6:30 to 8 p.m., with Bird sharing kitchen hacks and how-tos for the farm-to-table fare Fable Kitchen is known for. Meal kits for each three-course menu will be delivered to registrants ahead of time, to cut down on extra trips to the grocery store. Participants will be able to refer back to the classes online afterward. Tickets are $45 per person. 

      The True Nosh Company

      Registered dietitian Renee Chan runs True Nosh, and she has a keen interest in healthy foods, vegetarian fare, and Asian cuisine. Prior to COVID-19, she hosted in-person cooking classes (and plans to again when such things are possible again.) For now, she’s offering online classes several days of the week; many are by donation, with the exception being Friday evening courses, which are $30. (A registered dietitian’s receipt is available; 10 percent of proceeds go to Diabetes Canada.) Examples of upcoming classes include dim sum (including gluten-free rice dumplings and vegan chive dumplings), Thai chicken satay (with vegan options), and afternoon tea. Chan also offers private cooking classes via livestream video, and, as a certified yoga teacher, sometimes adds on a yoga session before the cooking begins.


      A group of chefs in San Francisco started this company several years out of a desire to offer people freshly made gourmet meals at home. Now it connects individuals with local chefs in cities all over the United States and Canada, including Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. It’s about to launch in Edmonton, Hamilton, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Mississauga.

      Cozymeal is now offering live, interactive classes via Zoom. You can find everything from hand-made ravioli to pressure cooker risotto to fried chicken and waffles. Note to talented cooks displaced by COVID-19: It’s hiring chefs in each city it works in, so there could be opportunities for work. Classes on the current menu: Thai, modern Moroccan, true Italian, traditional Spanish tapas, sushi for kids, gnocchi 101, fried chicken and waffles, and more. Prices vary, with a limited time offer starting at $29 per device.

      Sushi-making with chef Tojo

      If you’re going to attempt making sushi at home, you might as well learn from the master. Tojo Hidezaku of Tojo’s Restaurant appears on Instagram live regularly with video tutorials for everything from temaki (cone-shaped rolls) to noodle dishes.

      Lunch at Home with CedarCreek Estate Winery

      If you’re working at home these days, you might be getting tired of the same old, same old for lunch. Mondays at 12 p.m. throughout the month of May, CedarCreek chef Neil Taylor will be doing a Lunch at Home Instagram live series. Look for simple but delicious dishes like soups, salads, and pastas.