Live virtual cooking classes have been one of my favorite things over the last year.  I have learned a lot and it has helped to quench my wanderlust when I haven’t been able to travel.  As things start to return to normal, I would like to continue to do these group cooking experiences.

If you’re interested in improving your culinary skills and learning new recipes, then you will enjoy the live virtual cooking classes on Localbites too.  Let me tell you more about my experience and find out how you can win a free class at the end of this post.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure for more information.

ingredients for my virtual cooking class with my computer ready to go

Virtual cooking classes are on of my favorite things to do.

What is a Live Virtual Cooking Class?

A live virtual cooking class is where you cook along with the instructor while you are at home and the instructor is in another location.  It is usually done through a videoconferencing software like Zoom.   Some also call these classes Zoom cooking or cooking groups.

Check out the virtual cooking classes available on Localbites.

About Localbites

Localbites is the website I used to take a virtual cooking class.  It started as a small passion project during the pandemic.  Josh, the founder, wanted to create a way to connect people through cooking on Zoom.  He hopes it will grow to be a social media site where people can post recipes and cooking groups.

stirring cream in a pot with steam coming off

It’s fun to work on your cooking skills through a virtual lesson.

Pros and Cons of Virtual Cooking Classes

I have taken my fair share of cooking classes.  You may remember I wrote about a cooking class in Chiang Mai in Thailand and also a pintxos class in San Sebastian, Spain.  Since the pandemic started, I have also done a few cooking classes online.  Let’s take a look at how virtual cooking classes compare to in-person classes. 

In most cases, virtual cooking classes are more affordable.  You are not paying for the location, but keep in mind that you may have to buy some of the ingredients.

It’s nice to be able to take the lesson in the comfort of your own kitchen.  You can connect with cooking experts all around the world without stepping on an airplane.  Plus, you get to use tools that are familiar to you.  If there are leftovers, you can enjoy them the next day or even share with your neighbors.

anisa in action in the live cooking class by localbites

It’s neat that you can connect and cook with people around the world through a virtual cooking class.

You can also take virtual cooking classes with friends and family members that don’t live close to you.  Some of the live virtual cooking classes I have joined have had many attendees, but the class I did on Localbites, it was just me and the instructor.

On the other hand, there are a few cons to consider.  It may be challenging to find some of the ingredients that you need.  While you might not be able to find everything you need at your local grocery store, you can try stores that cater for particular cultures and cuisines (if there are any near you) or Amazon. 

You may also need to spend a little time in advance preparing the ingredients, by chopping and measuring. This will save time and help you keep up during the class.

The other disadvantage of virtual cooking classes is that you will have to do the cleanup.  If only there was a magic fairy that could do the dishes!

dishes to put the panna cotta in to set

After the class is finished, you do have to clean up.

Booking a Cooking Class on Localbites

You have a wide range of options when it comes to booking Zoom group cooking on Localbites.  If you prefer, you can browse through the offerings or do a more targeted search.  There are filters for different cuisines, dietary requirements, etc.

Click on the options that look interesting to you to learn more.  There are pictures, a recipe overview, and information about the instructor.  You may also find reviews, but new classes may not have any yet.

pouring sugar into pot on stove

I thought it would be fun to learn to make an Italian dessert.

Once you have selected your class, you pick the date on the calendar when you would like to take the class.  Then enter the number of people (or households) that will be attending and book your spot.  If it’s your first time using Localbites then you will need to create an account.  Returning customers can just log in.

Next you pay for the class using a credit card.  Some classes charge per household while others charge per person.  Also, note that a website fee of 8.8% is added to the cost of the class. On the payment screen, you can also let the host know about any food allergies or other concerns.

If the host does not accept your booking, the charge will be fully refunded.  You are able to cancel your cancel your booking but there will be a charge.  If it’s more than five days in advance, you get a full refund except for the website booking fee.  Between two and five days, you are refunded half the class price.  There is no refund if you cancel less than two days in advance.

steam coming out of pot on stove

There are many different things you can learn to cook through Localbites.

I chose a class making Panna Cotta, an Italian dessert, which I have eaten in several restaurants but never made myself.  After I requested the class, I got confirmation that it had been accepted with a link to the page where I could post questions if I had any. Be sure to check your junk mail folder just in case the confirmation is there.

Preparing for a Virtual Cooking Class

If you want to make sure your virtual cooking class goes smoothly, preparation is key.  There are a few things you should be sure to do before the class begins:

  1. Make sure you have a good internet connection.  If you don’t it’s going to be hard to communicate with you teacher.
  2. Get the ingredients.  Make sure they are prepared as required for the recipe.  This means measure them out in advance, chop (if necessary), etc.
  3. Make sure you have bowl, pans, mixing spoons, and other equipment you might need ready to go.
  4. If a recipe or guidelines are provided, be sure to read them.
lemon and blackberries ready for localbites cooking class

We made sure to have our ingredients ready before our virtual cooking class.

Taking a Cooking Class on Localbites

I received a reminder email about an hour before the Panna Cotta class was set to begin.  After gathering all the ingredients, I was ready to start the class.  When it was time for the class to start, I just clicked on the zoom link.  It was on both the event page and the reminder email.

We did a quick check to make sure we could see and hear each other.  My teacher, Sandi, was at her home in the hills outside of Florence, Italy.  She’s been a tour guide there for over 30 years and also did in-person cooking class too.  Next time we are in Florence, we plan on reconnecting with her. (Read more about her here.)

Anisa listening to instruction during zoom cooking class

It was fun learning from Sandi in Italy through Zoom.

Before we started cooking, she asked me to show her my ingredients and also the molds I would be using for the Panna Cotta.  I had a few options for the molds and Sandi helped me to decide which one would be best.

Making the Cream Custard

After the checks, we were ready to start cooking.  This recipe used gelatin sheets, which I had not worked with before.  Sandi explained that they needed to soak in cold water.  While they were soaking we moved on to the cream.

pouring cream into the pot

Anisa pouring cream into the pot to make panna cotta.

The cream and sugar needed to be heated over low heat, which would take a few minutes since I have an electric stove.  I needed to keep stirring while we waited.  Once the cream was hot, the gelatin sheets had finished softening.  I would need to take the gelatin out of the water and squeeze out as much excess as I could.  Then, I needed to dissolve the gelatin in the warm cream. 

pouring the liquid panna cotta into molds

After the gelatin dissolved, I could pour the panna cotta into the molds.

Making the Coulis

Once the gelatin was dissolved, the mixture could be poured into individual molds and set aside to cool while we made the coulis.  I choose to make blackberry coulis, while Sandi used strawberries.  She saw that my blackberries were a bit big, so suggested that I cut them in half.  Then I put the cut blackberries, along with a bit of sugar and lemon juice, in a pan on the stove.

cooking coulis while the panna cotta cools

While the panna cotta cooled in their molds, I made the blackberry coulis.

To make the coulis, I would need to mash up the berries and cook them to the right consistency.  Since I hadn’t made it before, it was helpful to be able to show Sandi and get her feedback.  She also told me that if I wanted a smooth sauce, I could put it through a sieve.  I decided the sauce was fine as is.

Next Steps for the Panna Cotta

Now that everything was cooked and cooling, Sandi explained the next steps that I would have to do on my own because the Panna Cotta would need to chill in the freezer for 2-3 hours or overnight in the fridge.  To get the Panna Cotta out of the mold, I would need to dip the mold in hot water for just a few seconds and then carefully flip it on to a plate.  Sandi reassured me it wouldn’t be too difficult and if it didn’t come out, I could just put it in the hot water again.

liquid panna cotta in molds

I would have to take the panna cotta out of the mold the next day to give them time to set.

The next day, we followed her instructions.  It didn’t come out right away.  I ran a knife along the edge and put it back in the hot water briefly and it came out beautifully.  With a little of the coulis on top, it looked like a dessert that could be served in a fancy Italian restaurant.

I had fun taking the online cooking class and was quite pleased with the results.  It’s a recipe I would make again.  I might experiment with different flavors too.  It was also eye-opening to cook with the gelatin sheets.  Sandi mentioned that it was a good way to get foods to come together without using eggs.  I am going to look into other recipes that use gelatin sheets.

panna cotta made during cooking class with localbites

My panna cotta tasted as good as it looks.

Hosting A Class on Localbites

If you have a passion for food and want to share it with others, you can host your own zoom cooking on Localbites.  It could be a fun way to make a little extra money too.  Get more information here.

*Win a Class on Localbites*

Thanks to Localbites, I am giving away a free class (up to $30 value).  All you have to do is sign up here.

It could be a fun way to travel the world without leaving home.  Have you done any virtual cooking classes?

-Anisa

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anisa cooking with text overlay "take a live virtual cooking class with local bites"

Expert Tips for Group Cooking with Localbites

  • Let the host know if you have any food allergies when you book the class.
  • Be sure to have all your ingredients and equipment ready before the class starts.
  • Don’t forget to sign up for the giveaway to win a free class.

Disclosure: Thanks to Localbites for providing me with a cooking class to giveaway to my readers and also allowing me to take a class and share the experience with my audience.

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