Always wanted to learn how to make béchamel? Or understand the difference between champagne and cremant? Now you can.
One bright side to socially distant home life is all the newfound time to cook. But if you don’t know your paring knife from your ginsu, you can now attend your own cooking school at home.
Many culinary masters and food-and-drink educators are posting their knowledge on the web — some for free.
The Italian chef Massimo Bottura, whose Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, scored three Michelin stars, is hosting daily live lessons on Instagram, which he’s calling “Kitchen Quarantine.”
And he doesn’t waste time getting to the most important instruction for any chef in the time of coronavirus — or ever. “First of all,” Bottura says, “wash your hands.”
So far, he’s gone over curry, salad and even mac-and-cheese — yes, kid food from one of the world’s best chefs. You have to tune in live — at 2 p.m. in Minnesota — for the his hyper-enthusiastic lesson, but Bottura also posts a Q&A afterward, dipping in and out of Italian and English. An extra tutorial en Italiano on that béchamel sounds as luxurious as the sauce.
If you like watching people do what they do best, then go to the always-free Bon Appétit Video channel. The magazine’s test kitchen chefs have become cult celebrities with their offbeat-yet-gripping shows. Chris Morocco tries to recreate a dish while blindfolded? Sure. Carla Lalli Music teaches a celebrity how to cook while standing back-to-back? OK.
Best of all is “Gourmet Makes,” pastry chef Claire Saffitz’s trial-and-error epic, in which she attempts to recreate junk food. Almost always, she struggles until lightning strikes. It’s 40 suspenseful minutes of comfort food on screen. (Bonus: Saffitz went to summer camp in Bemidji, she says in her Combos episode.) One could learn how to make Girl Scout Cookies from scratch, but the real lesson is that perseverance is an indispensable kitchen ingredient.
More lessons can be learned from the queen of cooking shows, Julia Child. Through the end of the month, Amazon Prime members can stream her classic series “The French Chef” for free. (The rest of the time, the show is a paid add-on in Prime or through TPT Passport.) If you need to get over the ick-factor of handling raw chicken, Child won’t hold your hand, but she will show you how it’s done. “Here is our dear little friend, the chicken,” she says in one episode in her jolly lilt, while knifing it to pieces.
The New York Times cooking team has a YouTube channel where Melissa Clark, Alison Roman and guests like Jamie Oliver and “Queer Eye”’s Antoni Porowski do baked ziti, cookies and more.
Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street magazine, which normally charges for its online Cooking School, has taken down the paywall on more than a dozen classes. Each class page contains videos, recipes, step-by-step photo guides and scans of related articles from the magazine. You’ll still need to register on the site, but there’s no payment.
America’s Test Kitchen has also removed its paywall on its 50 “all-time favorite” recipes. The site also posts full episodes of its cooking show, and more than 50 of the most recent episodes are free to stream. Travel via your kitchen with recent offerings like “The Very Best Paris-Brest” and “A Trip to Rome.”
Food Network Kitchen, the TV channel’s educational app with live classes, does charge by the month (or year). But you can get a free starter month when you sign up, though you’ll have to enter credit card information.
You don’t have to live in Minnesota to take an online class from these Twin Cities educators.
Beginning this weekend, Cooks of Crocus Hill, the Minneapolis and St. Paul shop and cooking school, will post video tutorials. The first: “We’ll be talking about pantry cooking, quick and easy recipes. And ideas for engaging your kids,” said owner Karl Benson. Check the website for more details as they become available. Benson said he’ll be scheduling video classes with chefs and restaurants in town. And search the blog for the series Tasty Bits, less-than-a-minute videos with chefs and teachers about a surprise item inside a Cooks of Crocus Hill shopping bag.
Project Success, the youth development organization for Minneapolis Public School students, has turned its cooking institute into an online class geared toward 9th-12th graders. Kids will learn about recipes from different world cultures, as well as heating, seasoning and baking. The live classes run on Instagram Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at.instagram.com/projectsuccessorg.
And Jason Kallsen, founder of Twin Cities Wine Education, has taken his vast knowledge of wine online. He’s just launched the Wine Workshop, a series of 3-day courses with an interactive social message board, so participants can chat about the tutorials as they sample their own vino ($29). There are also 1-hour webinars, like this Friday’s Quick Classes on Vinho Verde and Port ($19).
Learning about wine online is well suited to these times, Kallsen said.
“Wine has always been a magnet for connection,” he said. “Now more so than ever, because it reminds us of vintages and places. When you look at a bottle of wine, that’s sunshine and rainfall from another place and another time that you’re putting in your body. Wine is time travel.”
Sharyn Jackson • 612-673-4853