Virtual cooking classes and dinner parties with Winnipeg chefs
These chef tips and on online dining experiences are here to make you feel less isolated
This past weekend I learned how to make gnocchi while flipping through Instagram.
It was via Winnipeg chef Ben Kramer, who hasn’t stopped doing great things for Winnipeg’s culinary community and those less fortunate since the start of this COVID-19 crisis. He created a drive for ingredients from restaurants that were just about to shut, so the food wouldn’t perish and could be made into dishes for the Main Street Project. (You can watch that full Insta story here, but be warned you may need a tissue as it is about as heartwarming as it gets.)
On top of this, in the past week, Kramer has created numerous saved Insta stories on how to simply cook things step-by-step, from polenta, to pasta al pomodoro, to dried beans and risotto.
“I’m pretty fortunate that I have spent my whole life cooking. I’m able to make a pretty tasty, nutritious meal out of very little,” says Kramer.
“I figured that documenting some of the basic techniques I use at home and sharing them via Instagram, I could hopefully spread some of this knowledge and show some people that cooking doesn’t need to be intimidating,” he says, noting that the interaction with people on Instagram after is something he’s relished.
“The number of DM’s with questions and pictures of 'first attempts at….' have been quite heartwarming,” he continues.
“It’s really nice to see people discovering the joy that cooking can bring and trying new things.”
Of course, Kramer is not the only member of Winnipeg’s culinary community who is now giving multimedia instructions on cooking and making drinks from home.
Little Nana’s Italian Kitchen, a Calabrian restaurant that just opened in December 2019, is hosting two online classes on Insta this Thursday, April 9, along with another on April 14, where you can learn how to make some great dishes from southern Italy.
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First online class is lasagna. We have lots of people interested so we have decided to ask “when works for you?” We will be hosting several classes as we want to keep them small. Ingredients will be sent to you morning of. Keeping busy is good for our brain! #keepingbusy #winnipegonlinecookingclass
Also at a glance, Forth has continued to make great videos on home brewing (coffee that is, with an Aeropress), while Cornelia Bean is always giving great advice and showing how you can properly get your grind and steep on. Both business are also offering delivery right now on all sorts of great brewing products, along with beans and leaves.
As well, a few of Winnipeg’s best mixologists (or bartenders, whatever you’d prefer to say) are sharing some rather saucy drink-making tips to try and lighten the mood during this pandemic.
For instance, here’s Erik Thordarson, the owner and operating manager of Sous Sol demonstrating how to pour a “Squeez N’ Toss,” (while also giving a shout-out to Winnipeg’s Patent 5 Distillery, which makes a really great gin.) Elsa Taylor, co-owner of The Roost also demonstrates how you can drink your breakfast (or should that be sorrows?)
Outside of Instagram, West End Biz has created an experience that will actually make you feel like you are dining out, while making new friends, which is about as much as we could ask for right now.
The West End Biz Distant Dinner Party is a virtual dinner party on Zoom that works like this: You buy a ticket which gets you a meal delivered from one of the neighbourhood’s many great spots (it’s a new restaurant each experience). Your digital ticket will include a link to the "Distant Dinner Party Video" conference. Here, you can interact with all the other diners participating, while a West End BIZ employee hosts a game of trivia based on this historic, multicultural area. The winner, of course, gets a prize.
It’s a cool concept that will provide local diners a chance to discover the dining scene of this historic area that surely has the most restaurants per block in all of Winnipeg.
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We are very excited to share that the West End BIZ will be hosting Distant Dinner Parties! Our first Distant Dinner Party will be this Friday, April 3rd from 6:30pm-7:15pm and will be featuring West End restaurant @sorrentosonellice . Enjoy great company, delicious food and entertainment, right from the comfort of your home! Each Distant Dinner Party will feature one West End restaurant, participants will receive a fresh meal delivered to their home and access to our video conference where our Tour Guide will be sharing interesting stories about the West End and leading a fun game of trivia! Current Distant Dinner Party dates are April 3rd and April 7th, more dates will be announced shortly. Tickets are $21 and can be purchased on our website www.westendbiz.ca/dinnerparty If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Aurora at email@example.com **participants must live in the City of Winnipeg city limits for delivery** #wpgwestend #westendbiz #supportlocalwpg
"As soon as social distancing restrictions came into place, we began contacting our businesses to understand the impacts,” said Joe Kornelsen, Executive Director of the West End BIZ. “We knew that customer numbers were falling rapidly and for health reasons we couldn't use any of our typical strategies for bringing folks together in the West End.”
“We started thinking about online tours and how we could differentiate ourselves. Given that the West End has the most iconic dining scene in Winnipeg, we know that anything is made better when a well-crafted meal is included. And with that -- what was an online tour idea quickly became a great way to dine, learn about the West End, and even socialize with fellow Winnipeggers," Kornelsen continued.
They held their first one on Friday, April 3, along with two more this week (Monday, April 6 and Tuesday, April 7). After strong interest, they’ve now put tickets available for several more, with a lineup that includes the restaurants Mr. Calzone (April 9), Gojo Ethiopian (April 17) Viena Do Castelo (April 22), Mooshiro (April 24) and Sultan's Shawarma (April 28). The menus for these "Distant Dinner Parties" are available in the above links, with vegetarian options available upon request.