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a stone bench with 4 plates of food, roasted cauliflower, chicken, glazed pumpkin and broccolini
Photograph: Supplied/Willow Urban Retreat

The best online cooking classes and chef-led cookalongs

Take your home cooking game to the next level with a tutorial from some of Australia's best

Elizabeth McDonald
Written by
Elizabeth McDonald
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It's probably safe to say that the novelty of lockdown is wearing pretty thin at this point. Walking around in 5km circles, organising kitchen cupboards, the death of sourdough starters and endless Netflix binges – it's a broken record and we're sick of it. You're sick of it. Everyone is sick of it.

On the bright side, Sydney's takeaway food options have skyrocketed and even top-tier eateries have caved and brought their food to our doors for the first time. Hell, you can even get drive-thru pints these days. So, why not take that at-home dining experience one step further with a fun and educational online cooking experience?

These aren't exactly the usual google of how to cook the perfect egg or 'is it ok to eat pasta for breakfast?' Some of Sydney's best gourmands are taking to the world wide web to share their insider tips and tricks to keep us mere mortals cooking along with the best of them. While many online cooking classes are structured with kits delivered and scheduled zoom times, there is still plenty of room for the more relaxed styling of celebrity chefs simply opening their Instagram apps and hitting record. We've rounded up some of our favourite online cooking experiences to help you fulfill all those Masterchef fantasies. Oui, chef!

Looking for more ways to keep busy? Get into a weird and wonderful hobby.

Sydney's best virtual cooking classes

Class Bento has proven to be the MVP of lockdown, keeping Sydneysiders busy and crafty from the confines of their homes. Their series of online cooking classes provide you with all the gear and great ideas. Chef Marina Totta will have you knocking out gnocchi like a champ; the team at the Modern Desi will guide you through the art of Indian cooking; or perhaps edible jelly art under the guidance of Katheryn Sunantha is more your style. There's a class for every budget, ranging from $30 up to $470, and are livestreamed with kits delivered ahead of time so you can settle in and really enjoy your culinary creations. 
Check out the full schedule on the Class Bento website.

Willow head chef Nick Cree and in-house naturopath and nutritionist Steph Gobbo have teamed up to create an online cooking experience with its roots planted in nutrient-dense and immunity-boosting cooking. The menu will have you prepping roasted spatchcock chicken with lemon zaatar and harissa yoghurt, pomegranate glazed pumpkin with lentil tabbouleh and sautéed broccolini dressing in lemon, mint, roasted almonds and feta. Aligning with the Willow ethos, the menu is therapeutically designed to enhance immunity and support optimal digestion. Gobbo will be discussing the nutrition and biochemistry of the ingredients used throughout the class and how they are beneficial for our health whilst Cree showcases his culinary expertise and cooking tips for you to develop your at-home skills.

Tickets are $29.95 and can be purchased on the Willow Urban Retreat website.

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National treasure and Barossa delight Maggie Beer is running informal virtual cooking classes every Saturday on her Instagram page. Through the magic of the internet, Maggie is beaming direct from the Barossa to your phone. The recipes focus on pantry staples that are largely inexpensive (though in typical Beer fashion, a splash or two of verjuice never goes astray) and will leave you with all the warm and fuzzies of a visit to your nan's house. All the cooking classes are saved to her IGTV so you can go back in time and learn how to roast the perfect chook, pea and ham soup or marmalade bread and butter pudding. Fans will already recognise Beer's kitchen but for those who are new around here, watching the chef working from home will add a little extra layer that is just charming.

With over a decade of cheesemaking experience, Marly Badia of Omnom Cheese will guide you through the fundamentals of whipping up cheeses from your own home. Her virtual master classes will lend valuable insights into the world of fromage and direct access to her years of wisdom. Cheese-making kits include a halloumi, an Italian fresco and a Mediterranean pack which starts at $49.95 and can be purchased through the Omnom website.

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Another ad-hoc Instagram cooking show, Colin Fassnidge's feed has been flooded with bottom-of-the-fridge meals in quick bites, camera work by daughters Lily and Maeve. Sure, the recipes are awesome (and free!) but this is worth watching for the father-daughter dialogue alone. It's adorable. Fassnidge, with the assistance of his brood, has captured life in lockdown and the prep of slow-cooked lamb neck with white beans, salt crust chicken, root vegetables cooked in mussel stock and a whole load of other chefy numbers. 

In the before time, Randwick's Foodie del Mar was a bar and restaurant with a catering side hustle. Now that side hustle has become the team's bread and butter and they're not doing things in halves. With a focus on truly fresh, local seafood, the eatery is filling a niche in the market by providing DIY seafood cooking kits in partnership with GetFish (formally Decosti) at Sydney's Fish Market. As well as the cook-at-home kits that feature Spanish king prawn paella with marinara, Singapore chilli crabs and French-style mussels with blue cheese and crispy bacon, you can book a live-stream Masterclass hosted by Foodie del Mar. Head to their website here for full details on kits and classes.

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