If you want to eat, drink and be merry this holiday season, invite the experts into your kitchen — virtually, of course, because it’s still 2020. D.C.-area chefs and cooking schools are offering a wide variety of classes, all available from home.
Here are five festive options that will have you dashing through the kitchen, snacking all the way.
Ahead of Thanksgiving, Cozymeal hosted a class on how to prepare the perfect “Friends”-themed Friendsgiving — a spoof on the popular TV show. Those who tuned in, from afar, learned how to make Rachel’s “traditional” English trifle, a “Mockolate” brownie and Chandler’s treasured grilled cheese sandwich.
That’s the kind of fun, something-for-everyone classes the online culinary platform specializes in curating. Guests can take virtual classes from chefs across the world or based in the District — many of which include ingredient delivery. Some chefs also offer options for socially distant, in-home cooking experiences.
In December, for example, join a virtual dark chocolate workshop, create homemade edible gifts or master the art of Instagram-worthy plating. Most online lessons are $29 to $39 per device. Upcoming private, in-home classes include a Parisian steak dinner how-to and lesson on preparing a seasonal seafood dinner. Both are $105. cozymeal.com.
[Find the spirit of the holidays — virtually or in real life — with this day-by-day guide to the most festive events]
In September, Chef Matt Baker of Gravitas opened Baker’s Daughter in the District’s Ivy City neighborhood, with a focus on fresh offerings from the Chesapeake region. In addition to coffee and sandwiches, the market and cafe offers a weekly CSA box ($65) that can be picked up on Thursdays. It’s stuffed with seasonal produce and meat from local farms, plus sauces, condiments, pickles and bread — and a recipe suggestion.
During December, Baker will lead weekly Saturday cooking demos on Zoom to demonstrate how to make a three-course meal using the box’s contents. (The demos are free for those who purchase the CSA box.) He says he started the classes to bring his customers “the restaurant experience of hospitality in a time when not everyone is comfortable going to a restaurant.”
Baker expects upcoming classes to focus on holiday cookies (he’ll provide decorating kits); a winter beef stew with pommes puree and eggnog or a mulled wine cocktail; Yule logs (using a sponge cake from the CSA box); and one his favorite holiday traditions: Mexican pozole. 1402 Okie St. NE. bakersdaughterdc.com.
Cookology Recreational Culinary School
On a quiet Monday afternoon, Maria Kopsidas whirled her laptop around Cookology’s bright, glass-sheathed space in Ballston. A few chefs toiled inside the school’s six kitchens — but there were no guests, a strange new reality for a business intended to be packed full.
Still, Cookology — which also has a location in Dulles — has found fun ways to continue improving Washingtonians’ skills. Sign up for a class, and you’ll receive a detailed recipe and ingredient list that you can download ahead of time in PDF form. On the schedule in December: indulgences for winter date nights (Dec. 11, $55), perfecting holiday breads (Dec. 13, $55) and cooking and preparing pies (Dec. 19, $55). You can also book a private virtual event or birthday party, or register for a culinary boot camp.
Chefs go step by step during classes, slowing down for participants who fall behind, or whose oven stalls out, and take their time sharing tips and tricks. “The tips are unbelievable,” says Kopsidas, who is the culinary school’s creator and owner. “What you get from a chef, who’s worked in restaurants forever and knows everything, is so different from just anyone who can pop up and write a cookbook these days.”
Cookology recently hosted a week-long pastry class that family members joined from opposite coasts, and everyone appeared to “have a blast,” she says. “I want to continue this even after the pandemic, because I think it’s something we were really missing.” 4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 21100 Dulles Town Circle, Sterling. cookology.live.
Doron Petersan has been baking vegan treats for more than 20 years — “before anybody even knew what it meant,” she says. “Vegan was the equivalent of a bad word. And now everybody’s like, ‘Ooh, what can you make vegan?’ ”
The answer is vast, as Petersan demonstrates at her Columbia Heights bakery Sticky Fingers. She’s hosting a robust lineup of lively virtual classes; favorites so far have included bread-baking and making dog biscuits. Kits of pre-measured ingredients are available for pickup, or participants can use the recipe provided in advance to source and measure their own.
In December, learn how to make plant-based holiday cookies (Dec. 5), chocolate peppermint cupcakes (Dec. 8), gingerbread people (Dec. 15), a gingerbread ski chalet (Dec. 19) or cranberry ginger muffins (Dec. 22). Most classes range from $10 to $50.
“I learn something new every time,” Petersan says. “It’s great for my mental health. I absolutely love it. Anybody who bakes knows, it’s not only about following the recipes and ingredients — it’s so much more. You use all of your senses.” 1370 Park Rd. NW. stickyfingersbakery.com.
Here’s a double-win, parents: Keep your kids entertained and end up with a full plate of tasty treats. Upcoming holiday-centric virtual classes from Tiny Chefs — which offers cooking instruction, camps and birthday parties throughout Washington — include Winter Snowball Truffles (Dec. 21), DIY Cookie Jars (Dec. 22) and Hot Chocolate Donuts (Dec. 28). All are $25, and recipes are sent three to five days in advance.
“A lot of people think this is too old or even too young for their kids, but the program itself is so customized to any age range,” says chief operating officer Katie Raguindin. “Every recipe we have has ways to take it down a notch or kick it up a notch. So there are ways to simplify a recipe for a preschooler, and ways to make it more challenging for a teenager.”
In addition to real-time virtual events, Tiny Chefs offers a variety of prerecorded online classes that families can sign up for, such as “the art of cupcakes” and “cooking around the world.” Those looking for a longer-term commitment can join a monthly or annual membership club that grants access to lots of live and prerecorded classes. tinychefs.com.