How to Zoom for fun

There has been lots of talk of Zoom fatigue lately.

The extra attention it takes to try to read people or react to them with the digital lag and the limited view of a Zoom window is all wearing us down, and we are longing for a more regular kind of interaction.

I know that what we are craving is a totally real experience, but while we get through this next bit of coasting in a virtual world, I do have a more engaging and fun way to use Zoom.

In a Zoom meeting, you are generally stuck sitting in one spot and usually your video participation is a required part of your participation.

The stress of having to be “on” is much of how people are getting burned out with the format. But if you participate in a Zoom cooking class, the standards are different.

Sign up for a cooking class online and the focus is on the instructor. You are welcome to display your video feed and show off your kitchen if you like, but it’s not required.

You might be able to speak to the instructor or just use the text chat box if you have questions, so your engagement is voluntary. You might also want to show off your appliances and your new apron, or perhaps you just want to focus on getting the job done.

The aim here is to learn a new skill or recipe(s), so doing prep work is my biggest recommendation.

Pre-measuring ingredients into bowls and ensuring your tools are handy means you aren’t searching as the instructor is showing crucial steps in the cooking process. Read through any instructions given so that you can have questions ready, too.

The fun part here is multi-faceted:

  • You are standing and moving instead of sitting down – this is an active meeting.
  • You are learning something new that you will be able to repeat in the future.
  • There are numerous options - different levels of expertise and detail, different time commitments and different prices (starting at free).
  • You get a tangible result at the end of the session. It’s an edible version of instant gratification.

These do require some social media involvement, as you find out about the classes through the chef’s promotions of them. I offer a few of the ones I have tried as a starting reference for you. Not all of them are on Zoom, but they are all on screen.

On Instagram, you can find all kinds of free baking and cooking tutorials through IGTV. You can watch them live if you wish, but they are generally recorded for later viewing on the account IGTV feed (choose the TV screen logo in search or in an account profile page).

Ones I have enjoyed:

  • Bread Ahead Bakery (U.K.)– sweet and savoury goodies with fun instructors
  • Food 52 (U.S.) – everything from tips to full videos, with a wide range of foods
  • Chestnut Bakery (U.K.) – these guys did vegan baking recipes in January
  • Cooking Buddies Club (U.K.) – Jamie Oliver’s son, Buddy, started cooking videos for kids, and now it’s taken off. Check this out if you want to engage the young cooks in your house.

On Facebook, there is a wonderful homespun success in the Maritimes you can enjoy on Sundays (or view later) – Tunes and Wooden Spoons.

Mary Janet MacDonald started broadcasting when one of her daughters suggested she share her beloved cinnamon roll recipe one Sunday during lockdown. She now goes live every Sunday with a new recipe.

On Youtube there is a plethora of cooking videos. These don’t offer as much engagement – you can’t ask questions – and the format is generally more formal, although some are entertaining in their sarcasm. You can search any recipe or type of food. If you’re still interested in mastering sourdough, try Foodbod Sourdough's videos.

If you want to delve deeper and spend a bit of money, then you get a bit more of an intimate experience. Look for a chef or instructor whose style makes you comfortable.

Here are a few I have enjoyed:

  • Bread Ahead Bakery (www.breadahead.com) – they do Zoom baking classes (their doughnuts are amazing, but not something I would have made on my own. Details are on their website. NOTE: they are on GMT, London time.
  • NOCHI (www.nochi.org ) – The New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute offers classes with recipes more common to the south. Some ingredients may be harder to find, but you can choose accordingly.
  • Private chefs – many are offering their services online, often for private bookings of groups. Gather your friends or family and tune in at the same time to cook together on screen. It’s the new way of making Sunday dinner work with social distancing. My hubby, The Chef, (lwww.facebook.com/thechefinstead), instead has done a few of these with dinner-and-dessert themes and everyone had a great time.
  • Soup Sisters Virtual Pot (https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/cu/HtP9IMR) — is doing their fundraising online by connecting with chefs who are hosting classes on soup. For every sign-up, Soup Sisters will deliver soup to local shelters.

Julia Child offered her practical wisdom about the current state of meetings causing us burnout. I think we should take her advice to heart:

  • “A party without cake is just a meeting.”

It’s time for more cake.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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