With the coronavirus pandemic upending the restaurant industry, Austin chefs have no idea when restaurants will open and return to normal, or what that normal will look like.
Some chefs are getting creative by launching meal kits inspired by popular dishes at their restaurants, while others are connecting with home cooks directly through online cooking classes and livestreams.
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Many of these classes are free and open to the public, usually through Instagram or Facebook, but some chefs are offering fee-based private classes for individuals or small groups, which allow people to connect with their friends and family who are sheltering in place elsewhere.
Here’s a roundup of where you can find these kinds of free and paid classes for the foreseeable future:
The organizers of the Luck Reunion music festival have launched a Friday evening series called Prime Cuts that features prominent chefs and musicians demonstrating dishes and dishing on what they are cooking during the coronavirus pandemic. On the website, viewers can find a recipe card with ingredients so they can cook along with the video, which starts at 6 p.m., and there’s an option to tip the contributors and donate to the Austin Food & Wine Alliance.
A recent episode included chefs Mason Hereford of New Orleans restaurant Turkey & Wolf, Ryan Pfeiffer of Blackbird in Chicago, mixologist Abigail Gullo from Paris Blue in Seattle and musician Robert Earl Keen. You can see who is appearing each week on luckreunion.com/primecuts, and you can catch past episodes on the Twitch.tv app available on Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV or on facebook.com/lucktexasreunion.
Yuyo chef Maribel Rivero is hosting free Instagram livestream cooking classes at 8 p.m. Saturdays on her channel @cocinamaribel. She often teams up with friends and fellow chefs from around the world, including a recent class on Uruguay’s gnocchi day, which home cooks across the country celebrate on the last Sunday of the month. She’s co-hosting free DIY cocktail livestreams at 4 p.m. Thursdays on Instagram. Rivero, a James Beard semifinalist, is also hosting private classes, starting at $35 a class for four to 10 people, between noon and 8 p.m. most days of the week.
Ian Thurwatcher, executive chef and co-owner of Intero, is teaching online cooking classes (for up to six people in three locations) through Skype or Zoom. Each class starts at $65 and is tailored to what the participants want to learn, including classic dishes from Intero’s menu or a dish they’ve always wanted to master. Thurwatcher has a zero-waste philosophy at the restaurant, so many of the classes include tips on cutting down waste in the kitchen and stretching your ingredients beyond one meal. Attendees can pick up ingredients at Intero or opt to receive an ingredient list to buy elsewhere. Co-owner Krystal Craig will soon offer chocolate tasting and pairing classes, too.
Suerte chefs Fermín Núñez and Derrick Flynn are taking their cooking classes to YouTube. Many of the videos are to support the restaurant’s budding meal kit business, but they’ve made the videos, many of them quite funny, available for free to the public. Search for "Suerte ATX" on YouTube to find them.
Chef Rick Lopez is hosting a free "Late Night Bite" series on La Condesa Instagram (@lacondesaaustin) at 9 p.m. Saturdays, where he’s raiding his own pantry to make salsas, tacos and other "chef-ified comfort food." Look for special guests to join him and listen for new favorite songs from his "deep cuts-only playlists."
Il Brutto chef Erind Halilaj is hosting free hangouts at 6 p.m. Sundays via the restaurant’s Instagram page (@ilbruttoaustin), where Halilaj demonstrates popular dishes from the restaurant and chats with special guests, including Charity Sadoy, the restaurant’s general manager, about wine pairings and general culinary education.
Buenos Aires Cafe is hosting short cooking videos on its Instagram (@buenosairescafeatx), and recent episodes have included gnocchi with béchamel sauce.
Local cooking instructor Rachel Zierzow has launched "Cooking Together," a new online cooking subscription ($10 per month or $99 for the year) that includes new videos and recipes each month.
Amanda Darby, owner of the East Austin Culinary Studio, will start an online cooking class series for beginners in the coming weeks. You can sign up for her newsletter to find out more at eastaustinculinarystudio.com.
The Austin-based Pasta Social Club has also shifted online. Head pasta-maker Meryl Feinstein, who has garnered a large following on Instagram with her homemade pasta shapes, is teaching two classes a week via Zoom ($25 per class), and she’s also available for private online classes, which start at $49. You can find upcoming classes at pastasocialclub.com.
Barton Springs Mill founder James Brown and baker extraordinaire Abby Love have posted a series of YouTube videos about how to start, maintain and bake with a sourdough starter.
The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts has partnered with the Texas Restaurant Association’s ProStart Program to make the school’s online learning tools, including dozens of videos, recipes and tutorials, available to more than 15,000 high school culinary students in Texas.