New York’s The League of Kitchens has always been a uniquely immersive cooking school with immigrant women welcoming curious eaters into their homes. Students bypass the sterility of professional kitchens and find more intimacy as the homecooks teach in the very kitchens where they make their own food for and with their families. But this element of magical voyeurism is a thing of the past at a time when it's unsafe for groups to gather in tight quarters. The latest solution? The League of Kitchens has turned to virtual teaching while enabling their teachers to continue making a living. These digital online classes allow students to take advantage of their courses by signing up for the various dates listed on its Evenbrite schedule.
“Honestly, I dragged my feet going into this process of moving our classes online, but after running our pilot online classes this past weekend, I'm actually really excited!” shared The League of Kitchens CEO and Founder Lisa Gross in an email to Time Out New York.
“We're capping the classes at 14 people, and we're asking everyone to cook along at home (we're sending shopping lists in advance)... we end with a virtual dinner party, where everyone gets to chat and to share the experience of eating the same thing separately,” she says, adding that it's a way to uphold the school's mission to build community. Honing in on a way for participants enrolled in a workshop to still dine and hangout together helps safely break down boundaries when everyone these days is encouraged to avoid physical contact.
These virtual cooking classes are not new. Celebrity chefs such as Dominique Ansel, Christina Tosi and Eric Ripert are hosting Instagram lives, virtual baking clubs and MasterClass tutorials in efforts to give people spending time at home the proper resources to feel more confident in the kitchen. But in an era in which cooking remains such an important life skill, it is far more interesting for people looking to learn techniques from homecooks, whom are already familiar with how to simplify family recipes—some passed down over generations—rather than watching restaurateurs pivot away from fine dining.
If you’re feeling in a rut with feeding yourself, The League of Kitchen’s classes will push you to think more freely about how you use your kitchen. Many of the teachers come from countries such as Uzbekistan with cuisines not often offered at new restaurants across the city.