Meal kits can be cool, as can virtual cooking classes, but they’ll never be cooler than the Exchange District—particularly its restaurants.
Combine the three? Now that’s a recipe for a fun little night at home, one where you’ll have access to an amazing chef, a selection of great ingredients all prepped at your disposal and a peach of a host who will be along with you (virtually) every step of the way.
The Exchange District Cooking club is a new initiative for 2021 with tickets on sale now (and going fast) to experience a guided cooking session at home with some of the District’s best chefs.
You can now book your meal kit with Chris Graves from the King’s Head Pub (January 17: where he’ll make its legendary butter chicken), chef Sean McKay of The Mitchell Block (January 24: fresh pasta), chef Alfonso Maury of Corrientes (January 31: empanadas) and chef Aron Epp of Amsterdam Tea Room (February 7: hutspot dumplings) with more in the works to be announced soon.
For the complete meal plan we’ve asked host Pam Kirkpatrick—a Red Seal chef whose Exchange District cred includes being the original owner/head baker of Cake-o-logy and the chef/GM of Forth—why this will be the zestiest new culinary experience in the city.
What sets this online cooking/meal kit experience apart?
It’s going to us, the people. We have four absolute characters who are chefs and owner/operators and myself who are going to, in a really relaxed environment, have fun for an hour making food with a whole bunch of people.
Plus, given the relaxed format, we can stop [per request] in real time and rewind a little bit and say, "Hey, let’s go over this bit again because we see a couple people are still struggling with it." For instance, making empanadas—there’s quite a hand technique of holding the dough the right way and doing little twists on the edges.
You won’t catch us being like, "Here’s a pan!" And then turning around while you are like, "Wait what are they doing? Where did they go? Aeey! I’m so behind, kind of thing."
So this one has the aspect of someone talking to you and teaching you, which I think is huge.
Chef Kirkpatrick admits she has never done a meal kit, so she’ll be joining you in that aspect as host. So on that note, we asked her what she’s most excited about learning (or relearning)?
For starters, empanadas. I’ve made dumplings before, but I’ve never played with empanada dough, and to have somebody really good at it teach me to do that again, I can’t wait. [That someone is Alfonso Maury, who was born and raised in Buenos Aires and now has two empanada shops called La Pampa along with Corrientes Pizzeria in the Exchange].
As well, playing with pasta can be intimidating. I can do basic stuff like make ravioli that you can mess up or flub easily, but to have someone [like pasta ace Sean McKay] who can easily make the stuff, and does it daily, who can talk about it and all those little things that you don’t know about like, "Does this dough need more water?" will be great.
Do people need to do any sort of prep before their kit arrives?
Come with some questions because you have access to a personal chef for the next hour at your disposal. We are hoping for one-hour sessions. That’s a good time for doing something, practicing a little bit, for the group to warm up to each other a bit and chat, so be ready to submit questions. This way during little bits of downtime we can say, "What’s your tough questions?"
Why have events like this become important during the pandemic?
Based on how we’ve changed our mentality in this past year of what to do with our time— recognizing that we now have more time to do things, like hockey has been cancelled, swimming is cancelled and music lessons are only virtual—a lot of us have turned to asking, "What else can we learn?" And cooking, well it’s every day. Every day you need something to eat, so to keep expanding on that and learning on that is good for forever.
Will this be an ongoing thing?
We are already excited about season two. We were kind of dabbling with a capacity to top it out, like do we stop selling it? So we decided to keep it open and then with the demand we saw from the ticket sales, which is crazy and is super fun, we will for sure have another run.
Lastly, why is the Exchange District so great?
It’s because we have a nice little section of the city where there is everything—from very high-end bars; fun, easygoing pubs; specialty coffee; many independent fast-service restaurants and acclaimed dining—we have it all.
Tickets for the Exchange District Cooking Club are available until one week out from the event. You can purchase them here.