Green curry. Chocolate souffle. Georgian dumplings.
You can learn to cook just about anything via Zoom these days. Cooking schools and other organizations that pivoted to online lessons last year have worked out their kinks, added cocktails and even a bit of entertainment to keep things interesting while you whisk, knead and simmer with a pro.
Some classes are still intimate and small enough for you to unmute and ask questions. Others are buzzy social screens with laugh tracks and live DJs. No matter what, you should be able to find an online cooking class to fit your tastes and your budget. You can shop for ingredients yourself or have them shipped to your door. You can even decide when you want to cook — live or on-demand.
These five experiences range in price from $29 to $175 and feature everything from the basics of French cuisine to the intricacies of Pad Thai from an expert’s Chiang Mai kitchen in mountainous northern Thailand. Here’s just a taste.
Truffle Shuffle: Thai Green Curry
Learn to make Thai green curry and coconut rice from scratch with Truffle Shuffle’s online cooking class, complete with DJ and cocktail. (Courtesy of Truffle Shuffle)
Truffle Shuffle’s 2020 pivot from sustainable truffles, sourced directly from hunters, to virtual cook-alongs is a pandemic success story for the ages. Led by three French Laundry alums, the Oakland-based company is made up of laid-off, rock-star hospitality workers who, to date, have cooked with more than 200,000 guests virtually.
The vibe is certainly hard to beat. During my Sunday class, Thai Green Curry with Chef Connie, a live DJ played upbeat tunes and silly sound effects, from a laugh track to oohs and ahhs. And instead of wasting time making introductions with 60+ participants, we started the class by making a cocktail — a strawberry-sour Lady in Red — while listening to Chris de Burgh. Too much fun.
I took Chef Connie’s class hoping to break free from the shackles of jarred curry paste. And I walked away with the skills to make my own. Joined by Truffle Shuffle co-founder Tyler Vorce, the chef guided us as we mashed shallots, garlic, galangal, lemongrass and chiles with a mortar and pestle, while sipping frothy pink drinks. I learned to fry my paste in foaming butter, before adding coconut milk and vegetables, and worked with shrimp paste for the first time.
Overall, the class was informative, lively and filled with tips to improve your cooking beyond curry.
Perfect for … experienced home cooks looking for a joyful, almost dance-party Zoom room. Truffle Shuffle offers a rewards program and brings in surprise guests on occasion.
Cost: $125, including the ingredient kit
Details: Truffle Shuffle’s class lineup ranges from spirit-centric cocktail classes — tequila and mezcal on Oct. 22, for example, and Nightmare Before Christmas Cocktails on Oct. 29 — to hands-on sessions on pasta, steak and more. Check out the live and on-demand lineup at www.truffleshufflesf.com.
— Jessica Yadegaran
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