Cooking Lessons in Real Time: Google+ Cooking School

| August 4, 2011 | 0 Comments
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g plus cooking schools

Unless you’ve been hiding out from the internet the past two months, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Google+, Google’s new project that “aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life,” according to their site. It’s being touted as a real competitor to Facebook and Twitter, the current social media titans.

There are some significant differences between Google+ and its cronies, however, such as “Circles,” “Huddle,” and the innovative “Hangouts” feature. When you start a hangout, up to 10 users can video chat together all at once. The main screen will focus on whomever is predominantly speaking. Users can even watch a YouTube video together. The tech blog Mashable recently published an article about creative ways folks are utilizing Hangouts, and the “Google+ Cooking School” caught my eye.

The founder of this cool new school, Lee Allison, took time out from teaching to answer some questions about his project via email.

Where do you live?

As of last winter, my lady and I live in Queens, NYC. We love it here. There is so much great amazing food that it’s not even funny.

Do you have a professional culinary background?

No, I am entirely self-taught and have been interested in things in the kitchen since I was in high school. In fact, I knew I was hooked when in my junior year I turned out a perfect angel food cake from scratch. I was completely enthralled that I could do that! Then about five or six years ago, I decided to teach myself how to bake an amazing loaf of bread. That process, the investigation into what to do and what not to do really kicked off my food-junkie habit.

What inspired you to start Google+ Cooking School?

When I saw how easy it was to setup the video session with other people, I immediately knew what I had to do. It’s obvious that people would rather be led through a cooking session than simply read a food blog or watch a dry video on some website. This is all about the socialization of cooking and I love that aspect of it.

Tell me about your first cooking class. How many folks participated, and how many cooked right along with you?

My first class had three cooking along, which is pretty normal. That session was full with ten people. It involved teaching people how to make and cook dumplings. Once you know how, they are amazingly easy. But most people can’t get past the initial dread of tackling such a dish. In fact, I had several people mention that if I hadn’t shown them, they never would have attempted such a thing. That completely made my day. It was a full class with people waiting to join in from the wings.

What are the pros and cons of holding a class with G+ hangout?

Pros: Super easy to setup, very inclusive, fun, spontaneous
Cons: No moderation of idiots (none so far, thankfully!), no support if someone has an issue

How can people participate if they’re interested?

Add me on G+ (mention this article) or email me at lee@thesocialskillet.com to learn more.

Classes are in Eastern Standard Time, so make you sure you plan accordingly when signing up for a class. And check out two videos from a previous class that demonstrated how to make margherita pizza and ice cream.

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About the Author ()

Jenny is happy to wear multiple hats at KQED; she works as an Interactive Producer for the Science & Environment unit and blogs for Bay Area Bites, KQED's popular food blog. Jenny graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television program and has worked for WNET/PBS, The Learning Channel, Sundance Channel and HBO.