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According to surveys and opinion polls, experiences reign supreme as the type of gift folks want most these days, especially now that we’ve been deprived of them for so long. Finding a unique hands-on experience is definitely more challenging in this moment, but it’s certainly not impossible. For an experienced or aspiring home cook who also happens to be your valentine, an online cooking class makes for an excellent and safe . Now all you need to do is find the right one.
Cooking classes are one of those things people don’t often buy for themselves but always seem to love when they actually get out there and do it, I’ve found. The past year has seen a spike in online cooking classes and other remote culinary tutorials and experience and many of these culinary lessons would make an ideal Valentine’s Day gift for a hands-on chef looking to learn more. There are online cooking classes for every level of home cook too, so if your sweetheart is a total novice with the knives looking to learn cooking basics, there’s a class for that. If it’s a more experienced chef hoping to perfect a béarnaise sauce or beef Wellington, there are plenty of cooking classes for seasoned chefs too.
You can also find online cooking classes for every type of cuisine on the planet, as well as online wine education and virtual cocktail classes. The internet famously has everything, and that extends to digital culinary know-how. Want to learn to make dim sum or take a class on hot Indian curries? It’s out there. More of a baker? There are in-depth classes to learn bread baking, while others focus on pastry and dessert.
You’ve also got the cooking class format to consider. Some classes are live, held over Zoom or other platforms with classes of various sizes so you can muse with the instructor along with the other home chefs. You can also book classes that are one-on-one so it’s just you and your partner or group interacting with an expert chef who will walk through a recipe or two. These tend to be more expensive, for obvious reasons, but have a fun energy and feel very special. For my money, a one-on-one cooking class makes a really great Valentine’s Day gift for a foodie you love.
MasterClass and America’s Test Kitchen feature prerecorded lessons and classes to be watched on your own time and schedule. The benefit of a prerecorded cooking class or tutorial is twofold: You’re able to tap into some of the best cooking talent in the world like Thomas Keller, Alice Waters and Gordon Ramsey. Also, once you buy or subscribe to one of these services with recorded cooking lessons, you’ve got them forever and can easily navigate to specific parts of the class if and when you ever need a brush-up.
From celebrity chef-led lessons to chocolate workshops and cooking classes for families, these are some of the best online cooking classes to give for Valentine’s Day this year.
The Chef and the Dish
The Chef and The Dish will connect you with real, live pro chefs from all over the world who will join you in your kitchen in real time, via Skype. Global cuisine is represented authentically by chefs from the actual places they originate, whether you want to explore Brazilian steak, Hungarian goulash or sushi from Japan. Some classes are as inexpensive as $149, but most others start at around $299 for two people with an additional cost for extra students. You can also expect to pay around $50 or so for groceries and ingredients.
With so many cooking class options available through the Chef and the Dish, your best bet might be to send a personalized gift certificate, which you can buy in any amount.
If your previous food TV consumption has left you longing for the opportunity to get screamed at by Gordon Ramsay, MasterClass may be the easiest way to have that dream realized. Not only a cooking resource, MasterClass is a roundup of video tutorials, available for $180 per year for the entire library, which includes dozens of lessons in art, business, music and more.
On the cooking side, Ramsay’s contemporaries include other legendary chefs such as Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Dominique Ansel (of cronut fame) and others. You can even receive instruction in wine appreciation from Wine Spectator’s James Suckling or have Aaron Franklin walk you through his famous Texas-style BBQ secrets. MasterClass is currently running a holiday sale in which you can snare two year-long memberships to the full library of classes for the price of one ($90 per person).
Rouxbe is a leading online culinary school and is certified by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation. So, yeah, it’s some serious stuff. Rouxbe offers both individual lessons, but also professional certificate programs, so this would be best for experienced chefs looking to take things to the next level.
Gifting someone a Rouxbe membership makes the most sense and comes in at an affordable $70 for an entire year. With it, you’ll gain access to 75 recorded video lessons, and hundreds of recipes with personalized instructor support. Lessons include those on Knife Cuts & Knife Sharpening, Eggs, Dry-Heat Cooking Methods, How to Make Soup, How to Make Salad Dressing and more.
Cozymeal has hundreds of live group cooking classes that are held via Zoom, and many are between $20 and $40. This popular dark chocolate workshop, for instance, is just $39 and has loads of rave reviews. Most Cozymeal classes have multiple dates you can book or buy a gift certificate and let them choose.
As with most of these classes, you’ll need to supply your own ingredient list, which you could totally make part of your gift.
Udemy’s online cooking courses feature experts delivering lectures on specific food and drink topics such as Bartending Mastery, if you’re hoping to put your new bar gear to good use, or Sourdough 101 and French Macarons for aspiring bakers. Classes are individually priced and most are $20 or $30. Any one of them can be gifted.
The New York Times
The New York Times has one of the best collections of recipes anywhere in the world. What you may not know is it also has an extensive library of cooking tutorials and classes to tap into when you sign up. Cooking is now its own membership separate from the newspaper. A year’s membership costs just $40 (or $5 per month) and includes over 19,000 recipes and hundreds of supplementary videos that’ll walk you through various dishes and cooking techniques from top talent such as Samin Nosrat, Melissa Clark and Yotam Ottolenghi.
America’s Test Kitchen
This might be a good one to give your significant other to take with one of the kids and America’s Test Kitchen is one of the most respected names in food education. Besides a huge library of cookbooks rooted in the science of cooking, ATK recently broke into the online cooking class category too. That includes the Young Chef’s Club, which is designed for kids as young as 5. The program delivers themed boxes every month along with access to exclusive instructional videos, recipes and other food and cooking activities. The Young Chef’s Club is $25 per month, but gets cheaper if you commit to a six- or 12-month membership.