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What’s on the Virtual Menu?

Now that restaurants are closed, and everyone is being asked to stay home, families are heading back into the kitchen for family dinners. Maybe there’s a recipe that they’ve been wanting to try, but just haven’t had the time. Well now they do. Rather than heading to the grocery to contend with the crowds and the long lines, folks are turning on the frozen food already in their freezers. But what about young generation who haven’t taken the time to learn how to cook because they have been so used to ordering food, or heading out to dinner?

Fortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to online virtual cooking classes and demonstrations, which have proven to be a benefit to both the instructor and student alike.  Through virtual coming classes, executive chefs are able to stay engaged with their customers, while offering a much-needed lesson in cooking.

“For the people at home right now who don’t like to cook, and who have to, this is a great way to get them engaged,” Chef Adam Gooch, the executive chef for Common Plea Catering. “and for me, even though it’s not quite the same, it almost feels like I’m actually back cooking at an event.”

Chef Adam Gooch of Common Plea Catering has been hosting
weekly Facebook Live cooking demonsterations. So far he has
featured chili, and one on  how to make chicken soup six different ways.

Gooch has been hosting regular virtual cooking classes through Facebook Live, through Zoom calls with his corporate clients, and event at a local culinary school for students.

Going Virtual

In today’s world of social media and virtual meetings, there are a number of different platforms that are available for chefs to use in order to host online cooking classes. Some of the most popular platforms include:

  • Facebook Live
  • Instagram Live
  • TikTok
  • Zoom
  • YouTube
  • Google Hangouts

When decided which platform to use, it’s important to not only consider your audience, but where they already are. If most of your clients and followers are already on Facebook, you may not necessarily want to think about hosting a Zoom call.   

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Before hosting your first virtual cooking class, it’s important to think about a few key things to make sure that what you are presenting is engaging, relevant, and fun.

Keep it Personal

Are you cooking at home? Give them a tour of your kitchen or your refrigerator. Or maybe you can share your favorite kitchen hack or how you do meal planning for the week.

Be Consistent

Identify a schedule for when you want to host your videos so that your audiences know when to turn in, and it becomes a part of their weekly routine.

Cooking 101, Not Advanced Culinary Skills

Many of the people who are watching your videos aren’t professional chefs, so keep it simple and relatable.

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For his videos, Gooch made dishes with ingredients that most people already had in the house, such as chili and soups.

“You have to put the chef out of the mind and think about what the normal person would have in their kitchen,” he said. “It’s about trying to reach out to the multitude rather than the fi ne few who know how to cook. If isn’t going to work in the Midwest, it’s not going to work.”

Be Prepared

When hosting a virtual cooking class, it’s important to go into prepared and ready to present. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Set up your kitchen: Make sure everything you will need is within reach
  • Prep: It’s important to prep some of your ingredients, so that your audiences isn’t watching water boil for 10 minutes.
  • Think about what type of food will look good on camera (colorful beautiful)
  • Adjust your lighting
  • Use a tripod for your phone or have someone you are sheltering in place with hold the camera.
  • Keep videos short, around 5-20 minutes if possible.
  • Ensure your WiFi is working and that your battery is charged
  • Avoid distractions

Keep it going after quarantine

Gooch said he has been having so much fun hosting his virtual cooking classes that it might be something worth considering once the world gets back to normal.

“Think about, your corporate clients could walk into a meeting on a Monday and for lunch what it was I demoed on a Friday,” he said.

In the meantime, he’s going to keep cooking for and engaging with his clients.

“Whenever you turn on the news all you see is depression and at least by doing this I’m giving them something to get their mind away from all of the negative,” he said. “We become chefs to put a smile on the face of someone, so whatever we do now is going to make a difference with your clients”

You can see Chef Adam Gooch’s Facebook Live videos on his Facebook page,

Amber Kispert

Content Producer

Amber is the Content Producer for Catersource. Amber previously worked as a Communications Specialist for LeClair Group and a reporter for the Woodbury Bulletin, both located in Woodbury, Minn.  As a self-described "foodie," Amber loves to experience the world of food and beverages, and is excited to help share the stories of Catersource and the world's caterers.