Over the last few months, everyone’s lives have changed in one way or another… and I’ve found a new love for Airbnb Online Experiences, striking the balance of living in isolation yet also feeling somewhat socially connected with other people.
Whilst searching Airbnb, I stumbled across an experience listed as: ‘dumpling making from my family recipe’. It had a solid 5-star rating, already garnering 50+ positive reviews – which I thought was pretty good. You can’t go greater than 5-stars, so surely this cooking class must be an experience to try?!
A few days later, my online cooking class is scheduled to start, so I sign in to a Zoom meeting and get connected with a bunch of newly acquainted cooking buddies. I’m met by Elaine, our host and chef for the day, the founder and creator of Dash of Soy Culinary School, based in Seattle, USA; a group of college friends who have joined from different locations around the US; a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary; families preparing this meal together; and myself, the first person to join this cooking class from Australia.
From the get-go, you know Elaine has been teaching her cooking secrets for quite some time. Her English is clear and easy to understand, conversation is free flowing yet structured, and an overview of deliverables are also comfortably woven into the chat.
By the end of initial introductions, you’re brimming with confidence that you will be able to master the dumpling lesson and look forward to enjoying this tasting feast together with new found friends once the cooking class is complete. Even if you’re a novice dumpling maker like me, I assure you, you will get through this class and truly enjoy it.
So where does my experience lie? I can cook dumplings (nothing overly fancy that is), but I would usually buy the wrappers, make the dumpling filling and then drop them into boiling water with vegetable stock. This cooking class involves making the wrappers and frying the dumplings in the pan with water, so that’s what I was really keen to learn about.
In preparation for the class, I’d recommend to measure the ingredients and chop the required vegetables in advance. Also have the required bowls and cooking utensils ready, so you can move at speed with the online cooking class experience. If you have access to a printer or a notepad, list the key ingredients as a guide incase you forget what to include and when. By all means you can always ask Elaine at any time, so don’t feel you need to memorise all the measurements.
I’d also suggest to use a large screen whilst participating such as laptop or an iPad. A phone screen will be too small to view for a long period of time, as this class takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.
Elaine had two video camera screens permanently fixed, one facing her directly in conversation and the other where she maintained all of her cooking steps that we could see.
The internet connection/signal was great throughout and Elaine continually checked in with our progress, even requesting for us to bring the food closer to the camera when required, so she can review the texture and consistency e.g. such as the dough.
We had a really good group, we were all quite engaging and Elaine was more than happy to answer questions throughout. I felt that this also contributed to positive class dynamics and whilst we were all located around the globe, it still felt very interactive too despite being in our own kitchens.
So how did I go? I learnt a lot from this dumpling cooking class. Elaine offered to teach us three different ways to wrap the dumplings. I must admit, I tried wrapping the two other ways, but I kept to one style in the end as I couldn’t figure out how to make the shaping work for the others.
She also provided a printable recipe card on completion, which lists step-by-step instructions – with hand-drawn illustrations – on how to make these delicious pockets of yummy goodness.
That said, I’ve since made these dumplings again from scratch using Elaine’s recipe and they were an absolute hit. If you don’t have some of the ingredients, Elaine will help you through substitution – just contact her in advance as it may alter the quantities of the other ingredients. I created pork dumplings, but you could try other fillings such as a beef or lamb mince, or vegetarian too.
Elaine’s virtual cooking class is available via Airbnb Online Experiences using Zoom, all you need is a desktop computer or mobile device.