One of the odder elements of my job of the last 18 years is that teaching cooking means that I never actually do any of it. Our guests do. So now that the world is firmly upside down and the countries that come to our school are all banned from entering Europe, we need to re-invent ourselves, digitally. It hasn’t been easy.
First, there is the streaming software. Each platform has strengths and weaknesses. Some are great for talking head board meetings, others excel at replicating the classroom. We settled on Ecamm Live and publishing into Facebook live. In order to charge entrance, we have to create a new Facebook group each week, which makes it complex for all involved. And high-level live streaming is fraught with technical issues, so that I set up everything perfectly before going live and then hit the button and two of the cameras go offline.
On the more frustrating days, I try to remind myself that little of this technology was available even a few months ago and that I now literally have a television studio in my kitchen and another in my living room and on a good day, I can operate it all, with no one else around. (To paraphrase what they say about writers- that they sit home alone, trying to connect with others- I think those that try to stream live from their homes spend all day looking through the backs of camera so that they can eventually look through the front).
But I also have to chop, cook, explain, answer incoming questions, all while trying not burn things on live TV, broadcast all over the world. I have new sympathies for those street performers that play those one-man-band contraptions.
But, strangely, oddly, it’s slowly start to build a following. We’ve had 9 countries present in the first two sessions. And it’s been a reminder that even if the world is still very-much upside down, it’s still peopled with those eager to connect over food, wine and the mesmerizing country just outside our front door.
Please stay safe. We want you around our table as soon as they shoot the starter’s pistol.
(Ps. Just ‘reply’ to this to send us an email. We’d love to hear from you).