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Three ways to connect with the food world while the coronavirus pandemic keeps us at home

Need cooking inspiration? Here are some food videos, podcasts and more you can stream from home.
Michelle Stark eating a salad
Michelle Stark eating a salad [ Times (2017) ]
Published Mar. 25, 2020

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I knew that knowing how to cook would serve me well in life. I had no idea it would provide me with the necessary tools to get through a pandemic while hunkered in my home.

Across the nation, the spreading coronavirus is forcing people to remain in their houses. One of Florida’s most dramatic moves in this direction came Friday, when Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that all restaurants in the state must move to takeout or delivery. Many around the Tampa Bay area already had, due to declining business and public health concerns. But this makes it official: For the time being, we can longer eat at restaurants.

If you feel comfortable getting takeout from your favorite local spot, that’s a great way to support Tampa Bay’s restaurant scene and offer yourself some needed comfort right now.

But otherwise, you’re going to be cooking. A lot. I’m working on a larger story about how to master certain kitchen basics, for those of you who may be finding yourselves in the kitchen more than ever before. Look for that in next week’s Taste section. But in the meantime, I wanted to share some other cooking resources that may be useful.

Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel

If, unlike me, you have not yet made your way through every single YouTube video that food magazine Bon Appétit has ever produced, boy, am I jealous. Discovering this YouTube channel is like meeting a person at a party and realizing you are going to be best friends. The channel started with instructional cooking videos set in the magazine’s large and action-packed New York City-based test kitchen. Those are still some of the best of their kind on the internet, full of real human personality and helpful tips. But it’s the channel’s recurring series that are beloved by millions, and deservedly so: It’s Alive, with the impossible-not-to-like Brad Leone; Reverse Engineering with super taster Chris Morocco; and Gourmet Makes with Claire Saffitz, featuring a pastry chef who tries to make gourmet versions of popular snack foods, are the biggest hits. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop. And I guarantee you’ll learn something about cooking along the way.

Food podcasts

It took a while for me to buy into the idea of a food podcast, but they can be instructional and inspirational. Even if you can’t see what someone is preparing, listening to someone describe their favorite meals or talk about making them is a good way to stay connected to the food world. Plus, you can listen while you are cooking.

Eater’s Digest is an informative, wide-ranging look at the national food scene from online publication Eater.

Bon Appétit also has a good food podcast, called the Bon Appétit Foodcast. Topics range from things like “The Best Things We Cooked This Summer” to “Sesame, Scallions, and Soy Sauce.” They’ve also got interviews with national food celebs, and dispatches from their Test Kitchen staff, who you will definitely become obsessed with after checking out the YouTube channel.

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Locally, WUSF produces The Zest, which features conversations with local chefs and others in the food industry.

Massimo Bottura’s cooking lessons

The renowned Italian chef is offering cooking lessons for free on his Instagram account right now. The Michelin-rated chef is probably best known to Americans as one of the chefs featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table. And now, anyone can watch as he prepares meals from his kitchen. He’s calling the live streams Kitchen Quarantine, and they’re airing at 3 p.m. daily. They’re in English, with a very charming smattering of Italian here and there. One of my faves so far: “How to start a besciamella sauce,” a.k.a. bechamel sauce, a.k.a. the base for the world’s greatest comfort food: macaroni and cheese. Bottura is an energetic and delightful presence, so even if you’re not taking diligent cooking notes, it’s worth tuning in.

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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

EVENT CANCELLATIONS: Get the latest updates on events planned in the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks.

STORES REACT TO VIRUS: Some businesses adjust hours or announce temporary closings.

BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.

STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY: Foods that should always be in your kitchen, for emergencies and everyday life.

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