Will you ever be as good as Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver?
Maybe that’s the doubt in your mind as you watch him slicing and dicing on TV, but i’s not your fault that you feel that way.
Cooking shows rarely show how to do the boring, everyday tasks. Take it from me: making a classic deviled egg is far easier than baking an egg pudding. And while Jamie Oliver serves up both – the easy and the difficult – it’s often left to us to decide how to proceed, and that can be overwhelming.
Today, thanks to the Web, you don’t have to be a reluctant cook. The online world caters to the beginner cook with a larder full of options from recipe hunting sites to complete video guides on YouTube. But if you’d rather have some structure, there are educational courses available that handhold you through all the basics of cooking and baking.
Here are seven to perk up your taste buds and train you in the necessary fundamentals.
Cook Smarts Cooking School 101
Before you get down to shining the pots and the pans, head to the About page and read the inspiring story of Jess Dang and how she started the site. She exhorts you with a – “If I can do it, you can too!”.
You will love the visual appeal of the site. Sign-up and follow the Cooking 101 lessons. She advises every aspiring cook to start with knife skills, and the Knife Basics 101 video is the best first step. Afterwards, you can dive back into the site to follow all the resources, like the basic video on “How to sauté vegetables” or the printable infographic on choosing the right vegetables.
That’s just one of the many colorful infographics you will find on the site. And if you are feeling particularly demotivated, head over to the Kitchen Heroes section for success stories about average, everyday cooks like you and me.
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Chef Jacob Burton prefers to teach techniques over recipes. The “How’s” and “Why’s” of cooking were the reasons that drove his own culinary journey and, later, the idea behind The Stella Culinary School Podcast.
First time visitors should start here. If you want to jump straight in and learn all about cooking and baking, head over to the How to Cook video index to get a complete idea of what the site offers. The numerous video series that cover cooking techniques and food science will strengthen your foundations overnight.
If you would rather bake than cook: a short but instructive course on bread baking will help you to start off with staple recipes. The chef recommends books, tools, and other resources like audio podcasts on every course. Then there’s the forum where you can take all your unanswered queries.
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High-quality content, tools, and resources that help to educate cooks at any skill level, all performed by a team of award-winning chefs, filmmakers, scientists, designers, and engineers. It sounds like a strange motley for a cookery channel, but put aside the skepticism because they all make this show what it is.
The site is a potpourri of free and paid classes, but don’t worry: if you don’t want to tax your wallet, the amount of free content is more than enough to get you trained up. There is also a forum community behind the site that’s great for shared learning.
Many lessons are organized as projects, e.g. Why Work By Weight Rather Than Volume. If you want to dive straight into the recipes, head to the Recipes Gallery. If you are learning how to cook, filter the easy recipes and start your burners. Bakers can click on the right tag and go straight to the likes of caneles or Hawaiian sweet rolls.
Taste this: Knife sharpening.
All Recipes commonly features on any coaching guide for cooks. It has to, what with the sheer number of searchable recipes on the site — nearly 56,000 of them on last count. Tools like the Menu Planner and Shopping List also make for useful everyday tools for any busy family.
But since we’re on the subject of cooking classes, let’s talk about the one offered here. It’s not a free feature, but a useful one nonetheless if you use the site for its recipes. The course catalog is detailed with cooking tracks and each track is divided into several lessons. Each track costs $15.
If you don’t want to enroll, use the index of lessons to understand what each course is all about. There are enough recipes and videos on the site to help you replicate the dish. It could be a no-cost way to get a feel for cooking and baking.
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BBC Food Techniques
The BBC is not only about news and entertainment; it has quite a few alternative channels for learning.
BBC Food Techniques brings you free kitchen training through easy, intermediate and advanced videos. Every video has explanatory articles. The cooking and baking lessons are separated into six categories that cover topics from fruit and vegetables to fish and meat, from sauces and pasta to desserts and pastries.
Pick any and learn skills like how to skin peppers and tomatoes, or how to assemble a tiered wedding cake. You also might like to follow these famous chefs and their signature recipes.
Taste this: Testing whether turkey, chicken, and poultry are cooked.
Jamie’s Home Cooking Skills
This one is for the kids. Remember Jamie Oliver? Well, it turns out that I was wrong. All of us can learn how to cook like him and it’s better if we start early. Here’s what the celebrity chef says:
We started this course because we wanted to get fun and easy-to-teach cooking skills into the school environment, and inspire students and their teachers. I wanted it to be relevant to modern-day life, using ingredients that are readily available in your average supermarket.
The site has been developed in partnership with Edexcel in an attempt to promote culinary literacy among children in the U.K. The qualifications are designed for two levels of home cooking skills. The recipe teaching resources are backed up by step-by-step photography, useful fact sheets and web links. Fun activity sheets make cooking more enjoyable to learn.
Taste this: How To skills videos.
The Science of Gastronomy
This six-week course — just one of many that I found on Coursera — comes from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and teaches you the scientific principles behind cooking. Just go in armed with some high-school science knowledge and come out with the techniques of integrating that science into cooking.
The short videos explain specific scientific principles of food preparation. Try them out at home through the weekly assignments. Maybe, at the end of six weeks, you will be able to creatively prepare new dishes, or at the very least appreciate the secrets of fine cooking.
Also Recommended: Here are two more free online courses if you are interested to know more about the science behind food.
- Try Kitchen Chemistry from MIT Open Courseware which is archived on the platform.
- Enroll in Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science on edX which starts on June 17th.
Which Free Online Cooking Courses Would You Recommend?
These seven cooking sites are among the best free websites available. The importance of cooking is illustrated by the sheer number of paid cooking and baking courses that have come up, but don’t part with your money just yet. You can learn how to cook and save money, too.
Which online cooking or baking courses would you recommend? Are you still a reluctant cook or are you well you on your way? How did you learn to dice your first tomato? Tell us about your cooking or baking journey in the comments.
Image Credits: cooking class via Shutterstock