Recipe Rescue: Becoming the best firehouse chef you can be
By Patrick MathieuFeatures Training Week editors pick firefighter firefighter training First Responders training
Knowledge is power. This is a common theme you’ll see in Canadian Firefighter’s 2023 Training Week. Whether it’s becoming better on the fire ground or in your fire house, this is about becoming the best you for yourself, your crew and organization.
If you are looking to improve your cooking game, then you’ve come to the right place. Over the years, the shift in learning new recipes and cooking techniques has gone away from our classic cookbooks and has moved into the modern world of online cooking. From a basic recipe search to fully virtual cooking schools where you start at basic knife skills and progress through to cooking the classics, everything you could imagine and want to learn is just a click away.
Here, I’m offering up my five favorite cooking school websites so you can start your journey on becoming the best firehouse chef you can be. Your crew can thank me later!
Kitchn Cooking School
Kitchn Cooking School’s online cooking classes are completely free, informative and fun to watch, making them accessible for all and easy to try.
- Number of Classes: 20 lessons
- Membership: No
- Free for all users
- Students can complete the course in 20 days
- Private Facebook group to socialize with other students
- Lesson topics are limited
If you’re dedicated to learning the ins and outs of cooking and want a full program, Kitchn Cooking School offers an online culinary course that includes 20 lessons over 20 days.
Each day, a new topic is covered, starting with knife skills and ending with how to plan, cook and throw a dinner party. The entire lesson plan is available on their website with detailed descriptions and video clips of each class, plus recommendations for kitchen tools, equipment and related recipes.
You’ll also get a small assignment after each lesson to practice what you’ve learned. Most importantly, it’s clear the instructors value the joy in cooking. The tone of The Kitchn brand and messaging is light, playful and fun, but still professional and very informative.
Another added bonus is the opportunity to socialize with classmates through the Kitchn’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, so it can really feel like a virtual version of a recreational cooking course. If you don’t want to commit to their full program, there are plenty of free, instructional videos and other resources on their websites, including visual guides on how to properly clean and organize your kitchen.
Rouxbe is validated by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation, and its online courses are great for home cooks and those with professional aspirations through the school’s certificate programs.
- Number of Classes: 75 lessons
- Membership: Yes
- Professional certificate programs available
- Hundreds of different recipes to learn
- Free trial for membership to test out classes
- Classes can be expensive without a subscription
Rouxbe offers a wide array of individual lessons, in addition to its professional certificate programs. By signing up for the Rouxbe Membership, you gain access to 75 video lessons and hundreds of recipes with personalized instructor support. This allows you to learn about specific topics related to cooking, which you can do at your own pace.
Lessons are spread out among 13 introductory courses such as knives, knife cuts and knife sharpening, how to make stock, eggs, dry-heat cooking methods, moist-heat cooking methods, how to make soup, how to make salad and salad dressing, and more.
Whether it’s becoming better on the fire ground or in your fire house, this is about becoming the best you for yourself, your crew and organization.
There are associated membership costs, but Rouxbe often offers discounts on their annual membership, as well as a 30-day free trial. So, if you’ve been struggling to come up with recipes to cook at home, or this is your first time cooking for yourself, Rouxbe is a great resource that provides simple, quality professional guidance. Plus, at no initial cost, you take advantage of the free trial.
MasterClass cooking courses are led by professional and celebrity chefs, teaching students about sourcing the best ingredients and creating restaurant-quality meals at home with them.
- Number of Classes: About 15 to 30 lessons per course
- Membership: Yes
- Celebrity classes available
- Students learn about sourcing ingredients in addition to cooking
- Each class includes a workbook to aid learning
- Classes can’t be purchased individually
- Fewer lesson topics than some other popular options
MasterClass offers courses taught by celebrity chefs and mixologists, and they not only offer a wealth of professional knowledge but can provide you with the skills to transform your cooking into a restaurant-quality experience.
World-renowned chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller, Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck and Massimo Bottura are featured in instructional videos that include knife skills, basic cooking techniques (vegetables, pasta, eggs, meats, stocks, and sauces), restaurant recipes at home, and global cuisine (Italian, Mexican).
Chefs focus on sharing tips and techniques they use when sourcing ingredients, prepping, and cooking in their own restaurants so that you can apply these same principles in your own home kitchen. Each MasterClass includes a series of mini-courses and a workbook.
The New York Times
The New York Times Cooking subscription gives users access to thousands of recipes, cooking techniques and tips with easy filtering options for different types of meals or dietary restrictions.
- Number of Classes: Thousands (specific recipes and skills)
- Membership: Yes
- Great for beginner to advanced cooks
- Offers tips for both recipes and techniques
- Easy to filter based on dietary restrictions
- Focused on specific recipes rather than a course of lessons
The New York Times is recognized for its food section and offers a large selection of instructional cooking videos for all skill levels. Plus, you can rest assured that you’ll be learning from expert recipe developers, food writers and professional chefs. The website offers over 19,000 recipes, plus, plus hundreds of supplementary videos featuring different dishes, techniques, and tips.
For those with specific dietary preferences or requirements, you can easily find what you’re looking for by selecting categories like dairy-free, gluten-free, low-carb, high-fiber, vegan and more. When you might have a random assortment of ingredients or purchase something you haven’t cooked before, you can simply type in the ingredient you want to know more about, and all related recipes and videos will be shown.
You can also build and organize your favorite recipes and videos and put them into a virtual Recipe Box. Access to The New York Times database does require a membership, but like many others, you can sign up for a free, 30-day membership trial.
Top Chef University
Top Chef University’s classes are taught by popular chefs, and the courses even offer easy filtering options to find lessons based on the chef, technique, type of food and skill level.
- Number of Classes: 20 courses with various lessons within each
- Membership: Yes (no purchase required)
- Free for all users
- More than 200 lessons available
- Easy to find recipes for all skill levels
- iPad and Android tablet lessons don’t include as much content
- No feedback from instructors
Top Chef University is an app created by Bravo and is an interactive course taught by 11 former Top Chef contestants. It’s available both for the iPhone and iPad or Android tablets.
Once you sign up, you will get access to more than 200 free, video lessons and recipes organized into a range of courses, which amounts to over 60 hours of video. Courses include basics such as stocks and soups, all about vegetables, eggs and dairy, bread and grains, as well as courses on global cuisine, entertaining, and even molecular gastronomy.
Each course contains up to 20 separate lessons you can select from and watch on your own time. Individual videos are typically only 10 to 20 minutes long, so you can easily fit these into your day, even picking something specific to focus on as inspiration for your next meal.
Fettuccine carbonara, anyone? In less than 10 minutes, you will learn how to prepare this dish from start to finish, with a full ingredient list. In no time, dinner is served.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these cooking schools, as each are a little different and cater to different interests and skill levels. Find the one that is right for you. For me, Kitchn Cooking School would be my best overall choice for online cooking classes thanks to its easily accessible content and high-quality lessons.
Good luck on your cooking journey and as always, eat well and stay safe.
Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent Canadian Firefighter.
Patrick Mathieu is a Captain Training Officer with Waterloo Fire Rescue in Ontario. He has appeared on Food Networks Chopped Canada and is the author of The FireHouse Chef Cookbook. Please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Instagram @stationhouse_
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