The world is as close as your kitchen! The recent explosion of virtual cooking classes makes it easy to learn how to cook global cuisines in your own home. Formats range from interactive sessions to live demonstrations to videotaped instruction. Many are taught by regional cooks who have a passion for the flavors and culinary traditions of their homeland.
Check out seven of the classes I’ve taken recently and get ready to let your taste buds do the traveling:
Argentina – Tierra Negra Gourmet
Located in the Hollywood Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Tierra Negra Gourmet specializes in dishes from Argentina and South America using fresh, seasonal and organic ingredients. Verónica, a travel planner and sommelier, and professional chef Manuel believe a huge part of the travel experience is the food, wine and local culture. I took an in-person class with them in 2014 and was delighted when they recently launched a series of e-cooking courses. Menu items range from empanadas to Fugazzeta (Buenos Aires-style pizza) to Argentinian alfajores, a swoon-worthy sandwich cookie filled with rich dulce de leche and encased in chocolate. Ask Verónica for suggestions on pairing dishes with Argentinian wine.
Live cook along / Vegetarian and vegan options / US$ 20 (per person); US$ 50 (private session per household, + US$25 for additional households)*
Georgia – Traveling Spoon
Traveling Spoon connects travelers with local hosts across several countries who share homemade meals in their homes. They’ve recently expanded to include virtual cook along classes. On a recent trip to the republic of Georgia, I fell in love with the many versions of khachapuri (a traditional bread), and jumped at the chance to learn how to make it myself. Tbilisi resident Lasha and his mother, Elene, offer two classes: Imeretian khachapuri stuffed with deliciously melty Georgian sulguni cheese (a combination of feta and mozzarella is a good substitute if you can’t find sulguni) and Adjurian khachapuri, the iconic boat-shaped version with a sunny-side-up egg in the middle. Both classes include lessons for making Georgian dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) seasoned with fresh dill, cilantro and tarragon. Yum!
Live cook along / Vegetarian and vegan options / US$ 30 (initial guest); US$ 15 (each additional guest)*
India – Saffron Palate
I had the pleasure of taking an in-person class with Saffron Palate’s Neha Gupta in 2017 and was excited when she expanded to include online classes. Saffron Palate is the only New Delhi cooking class in Lonely Planet’s guidebook and has earned the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for the last five years. Saffron Palate features the cuisine of northern India and it’s not unusual for one dish to feature ten or more spices. We learned to sauté cumin, cinnamon, star anise and cardamom to develop the aroma, then layer in garam masala and other spices for complex, comforting and delicious dishes. Saffron Palate’s menu changes regularly and recent offerings include Chicken Korma, samosas with green chutney and chana masala.
Live cook along / Vegetarian and vegan options / Starting at US$ 28 (per person)*; private classes available
Morocco – Udemy
Udemy offers 150,000 video-on-demand courses for practically everything, with a huge selection of cooking classes. I decided to try How to Make Moroccan Bread when my own efforts didn’t quite match the taste or texture I remembered from a visit to Morocco. Turns out it’s all in the technique. In this free video, local chef Mariam Nassih shares the bread’s history and traditions as she lovingly mixes, kneads and forms the loaves. There’s something soothing in the way Mariam gently coaxes water into the dough, pressing and smoothing with her expert hands. The finished dough is then covered with a cloth and taken to the community oven for baking. There’s a bonus recipe for marinated olives at the end of the video.
Video / Vegetarian and vegan options / Prices vary, with many free classes available*
United Kingdom – Borough Market
Borough Market, London’s oldest food market, shares short cooking videos on their Instagram site featuring a wide array of recipes using fresh fruits and vegetables. Recent posts include summer fruit with white chocolate cheesecake, apple and oat pancakes, and beetroot with walnut patties. There’s also an interesting video featuring War & Peace Pudding, which was made by British cooks during the World War II era when sweet carrots were plentiful and sugar and other staples were rationed. Recipes accompany each post.
Instagram video / Vegetarian and vegan options / Free*
United States – New Orleans School of Cooking
Cajun and Creole favorites such as pralines, shrimp and grits, Bananas Foster and of course, gumbo, are as close as your kitchen, thanks to online classes from the New Orleans School of Cooking. Classes are taught from the Louisiana General Store in a renovated 1800s molasses warehouse in the French Quarter. The chef stirs in in a little history and folklore along with Trinity mix of onion, celery and green pepper. I especially liked the personal attention while learning to make a gumbo roux from flour and fat, stirring until it reaches the desired deep brown of roasted coffee beans. Hard-to-find ingredients such as filé powder and Creole seasoning can be ordered in advance from the general store, if desired.
Live cook along / Vegetarian and vegan options / US$ 33.50-60.00 (per household)*
United States – PCC Community Markets
PCC began as a food-buying club of 15 Seattle families in 1953 and is now the largest community-owned food market in the United States. Cook along and live demonstration classes include an autumn pie workshop, Chicago deep-dish pizza and soups around the world, to name a few. I opted for the demo on how to mix, form, boil and bake Bagels in One Hour. The atmosphere was fun and informal, like hanging out in a neighbor’s kitchen. Since many of the steps had been prepared in advance, there was time to learn more about different types of flours and salts, and their applications. Questions were asked and answered via the chat feature. Class offerings change on a regular basis and often include global cuisines.
Live demonstration and live cook along / Vegetarian and vegan options / US$ 30 (per person, demonstration); US$ 40 (per person, cook-along)*
*Subject to change. All prices were accurate at the time of publication.