Private Online Cooking Experience with Jason Grenci
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Cooking, made simple, social and beautiful.
I teach small groups simple ways to make beautiful food, like hand-made pastas, pizzas, sauces and other dishes all in your own kitchen, with your friends and family. Hang out, have fun, learn something new ... and come away with a beautiful meal made together.
- Live, private, online cooking class for groups of 4 to 12 people of your choosing ($300 for 4 people, $75 for each additional person)
- I'll teach you and your group live, step-by-step, on Zoom, right from my professional studio in Toronto, so you can learn to cook beautiful Italian food in your own kitchen, with your own equipment, anywhere in the world.
- Plus, eat together afterward! Closest thing to eating together in a beautiful restaurant you can get, and you made it!
My mission is to make delicious food accessible, social and beautiful -- and don't we need that now more than ever?
I've long taught small, intimate cooking classes from my home studio here in the Toronto, Canada area. I've seen first hand how meaningful and enjoyable it can be to spend a weeknight or a Sunday afternoon together with the people you love, whiling away the hours rolling pasta, maybe sipping a glass of wine,, or a San Pellegrino, joking around with one another, or falling quietly together into the rhythm of cooking.
Since the COVID pandemic broke out in March (maybe you've heard of it?), I've moved my in-person cooking classes online and on Zoom, frankly out of necessity, like almost everything these days. But then something amazing happened. My students and I, more or less at the same time, realized that in some important ways these classes are even better online.
For one, now more than ever, we're starved for this kind of social connection to our friends, families and loved ones. I know I am. And I've seen it in the groups I've taught as well. We need the contact we get from spending time with one another; even as the economy opens, the physical get-togethers we once depended on are fraught with risk and seem to feel stressful. And the idea of just getting on Zoom or Facetime to chat grows old -- what is there to say that we haven't said already?
But getting together to cook food is totally different, because it unlocks the timeless instinct we have to break bread with the people we care about.
Second, we're learning (myself included) how needlessly complicated our lives have become, and we're getting in touch once again with the joy of simple living and the pleasure of things we may have forgotten, or been reluctant to even try.
Maybe we've taken in all the complexity we can, and we're at our limit, and simple tasks done with our hands can restore a sense of calm. And Italian food for one thing is the perfect cuisine to teach us the value of simplicity. Never more than a handful of ingredients.
And third, we seem to be appreciating the beauty of things in a new way. Maybe it's the way certain distractions are no longer available, or maybe it's just that we're looking and seeing a little differently than before.
Whatever it may be, a few hours making simple food in the company of those closest to you, and seeing it come to life ... just seems to resonate right now. And that's what these classes can do.
Get unstuck and make it simple.
In my classes, I teach and coach people live on how to simplify their cooking: how to use what they have, how to find alternatives and options that work for them, how to use their senses and intuition to cook, and generally speaking, how to get unstuck. That might mean using a different ingredient than the classic recipe might "require" if you can't find it or can't eat it; it might mean using the pot or pan you've got rather than the one the pros use; it might mean adding more of something, or less of something, just because you want to. In my experience, people sometimes get tripped up trying to be perfect and exact; to me, that's not a thing. That's what I love about cooking. And it's what people taking these classes often tell me they appreciated afterward: that cooking this way, this simply, and eventually, this intuitively, just feels good.
It's liberating to make food in your own home, in your own way, to your own tastes. Sometimes, for whatever reason, we don't feel like we have permission to do it, or know how, or feel like it's safe to try. That's what I'm here for. I'll coach you and your group each step of the way. A lot of that time is spent helping people find a way to make it work, or adjust things, or sometimes, just giving them permission -- letting them know, "Yes, that will work! Go for it!" People find it cathartic at times; making a pizza from scratch that they never thought possible, or finding a way to make handmade pasta that's nearly as fast as opening up a plastic package of the dry stuff. And when you're doing it at home, with your own stuff (as opposed to at a cooking school, in the perfect environment, with all the fancy tools), it's so much easier for it to click that, yes, you can do this. And for you to do it again, next time, when no one is watching.
This is maybe the most important part: it's something to do! Something to do with your family. Your parents, or your kids. Your friends. Your colleagues. Maybe even someone new. A way to hang out, and have fun, with no pressure to talk. And because the pressure's off, what I've found is that people open up.
Restaurants are closed (or if they're open, you're likely avoiding them for now); we've sort of "run out of things to say" on Zoom and Facetime. And yet, we so badly need each other, now more than ever. So what can we do?
One option: come back to our natural instinct to break bread with one another. To gather around a table with one another. In this case, it's a semi-virtual one (virtual, because, yes, it's on Zoom; semi, because after all, you really are cooking and eating together!), but it's a gathering just the same. If you haven't tried this yet, you'll just have to take my word until you can ... but something just "clicks." You'll find yourself joking around, or chatting easily and aimlessly, and just enjoying the process and one another's company. It makes sense, if you think about it. Think of all the times you've spent with people you enjoy and care about; then think of how many of them revolve around food and drink. These classes are a way to bring that back into your lives.
What can we make together? Here are some sample dishes.
Once you purchase, I'll reach out to find out your interests and preferences, and make some suggestions; alternatively, if you have something specific you want to learn, you can just let me know then and we'll make it happen. To get you thinking about it, I'll list some of my favorites to teach here:
- Gnocchi Normale
- Gnocchi Gluten Free
- Gnocchi Sardi
- Spaghetti pomodoro
- Tagliatelle alla bolognese
- Spaghetti al limone
- Spaghetti alle vongole
- Spaghetti alla carbonara
- Bucatini all'amatriciana
- Rigatoni alla Gricia
- Pasta Cacio e Pepe
- Sunday Sugo
- Sugo Pomodoro
- Sugo alla vodka
- Sugo Amatriciana
- Ragù alla Bolognese
- Ragù alla Bolognese Bianco
- Aglio e olio (garlic and oil)
- Simple pizza with store bought dough.
- Pizza al teglio with store bought dough.
- Homemade dough for pizza and focaccia.
- Sourdough bread
- Eggs in Purgatory
- Truffle Burrata, arugula, and bread antipasto
As you may have gathered, my name is Jason Grenci. I'm a professional food photographer by trade and a cooking experience teacher by passion. While I love (and make, and sometimes teach) cooking techniques of all kinds, my background is Italian and that's the style of cooking I teach most. I deeply appreciate the beautiful simplicity of Italian cooking. The Zen-like and mindfulness pleasure of making handmade pastas; working dough into a beautiful pizza or loaf of sourdough bread, and slowing down to make it all happen is why I've decided to follow this path.
And I very much look forward to sharing all that with the people I meet and the students I teach.
In my spare time, I love reading, journaling, cycling, and especially vegetable gardening. In the summer, you might find me on my porch enjoying a sunset, with a plate of my favourite pasta and serenading my neighbours with some novice level guitar playing. Someone even threw me a five dollar bill once. ;)
Frequently Asked Questions
How many people can attend the class?
Up to 12 people. To give you an idea, 4-6 is a nice size for something that feels like a dinner with family or friends. 6-12 feels a bit more like a small party. If you'd like more, please contact me (or see the question below on larger groups).
Can the students be at different locations?
Yes! For example, you could have 4 people, each one at a different location; two people at one location, two at another, etc. Just note that the price is per person, not per "Zoom screen" -- so that if all 4 people were on one computer, that would count as 4 people, and not 1.
What software and hardware do I need to take the classes?
Zoom and any modern laptop, tablet or smartphone with a webcam or camera will do! Zoom is so common these days that you may already be very familiar with it, but if not, it's free, easy to download and easy to use.
How long are classes?
Expect between 2 to 4 hours; if you need something on the shorter side, I can make some recommendations once you've ordered. If you're interested in doing something a little more in-depth and hands-on, expect something on the longer side, like 4 hours.
What time are the classes?
That's up to you and your group! After you purchase the class, I will reach out to you to schedule a time that works for you. Naturally there may be some time slots already taken, but I will be as flexible as possible and usually we're able to find a time right away. I'm on Eastern time (based in Toronto) and can accommodate most anything during waking hours here. If you're in Australia, I may need a few extra shots of espresso, but we'll make it work. :)
What if I'd like a class for a larger group?
Sure, just contact me! I've taught groups ranging in size from 4 to 50 people, and everything in between. Prices for groups above 10 are between $35 - $75 per person attending, depending on the length and complexity of the lesson. That is, shorter 2 hour lessons average $35/person, for longer lessons of around 4 hours, the average is $75/person. At 10 or more, the "feel" changes to something a little more like a public class. That said, there are some cool tricks on Zoom to make it feel more social and intimate in larger groups if you like.
What dishes will we make?
Almost anything you want! My bread and butter is Italian cooking, and my favorites to teach are handmade pastas like gnocchi, orrecchiette, garganelli, and cavatelli. Other favorites?
Spaghetti pomodoro (a beautiful, classic, simple in-season tomato sauce), tagliatelle alla bolognese (the classic meat sauce), spaghetti al limone (lemon spaghetti, a specialty from the Amalfi coast), and some of the Roman classics, like pasta alla carbonara (which is so simple and when done well, unbeatable!) and bucatini all'amatriciana, both inspired by my two favorite restaurants in Rome: Taverna Trilussa (best carbonara in the world), and Osteria Zi'Umberto (best amatriciana in the world).
Other classics: a simple oven-baked pizza, or a great pan-style pizza like the famous Gabriele Bonci in Rome. Have something you've always wanted to try? Contact me and I'll do my best to make it happen.
I'm a beginner. Will I be able to do this?
YES! Absolutely! Beginners are my favorite to work with, because I love demonstrating how flexible Italian cooking is, how simple it can be (and how we tend to overcomplicate things, and how to overcome that urge) and really show people the soul of Italian cooking, which I would characterize as, "Do what you can with what you've got, right now." :) We may not know each other, so you'll just have to trust me: you and all your guests WILL be able to do this, and what's more, you're going to love it.
What if I don't have all the equipment?
That's the beauty of Italian cooking there again! Almost anything made in Italian cooking can either be done with no equipment, or what you've already got. And if it can't, there's a variation on it that can. And if there is no such variation, I'm going to invent one for you. :) That said, if you're keen on certain dishes, like certain styles of pasta that use a pasta maker, or certain styles of pizza that require a stone, or even a small outdoor pizza oven (for pizza napoletana, for example), I can help you select and source an option that suits you and your budget.
What if I can't find the right ingredients?
Here too, this is what I love about Italian cooking: it uses cheap and often easy to find ingredients, and very few of them on top of that. Some flour and water will make a great pasta, for example; some tomatoes and basil, a great sauce or a pizza. That said, sourcing ingredients these days can sometimes mean looking a little harder and in different places than before. Once you've purchased, I'll reach out and walk you and your guests through exactly what you need, and if anything is hard to find, I'll either help you search for it or alter the menu to work with what you can find. I've been able to do that for every lesson during COVID, so I'm quite confident we'll be able to find what you need to make something you'll love.
Can you accommodate dietary restrictions and food allergies?
Of course! Veggie based or even gluten-free (yes, this is possible) options are available on most of the dishes I teach, and I'm happy to create different options for different people in your group (i.e., you don't all have to do the same option). I'll provide different shopping lists for each variation, and I'll provide live, individualized coaching to each person in the class. I just ask that you let me know in advance so that I can be prepared; that way, everyone's happy. :)
Not sure if it's for you? Give it a try! If you don't love the experience, I'll give you your money back, no questions asked.
I know it can be tough to gauge whether something bought online is for you or not, so I always try to make it easier for people to give it a shot. And I'm confident you'll love it! So I want you to buy with confidence too. Buy a class for your group, and if each of you don't love the experience, I'll send you a complete refund, no questions asked.
Ready to begin? Hit "Buy Now" above and I'll reach out to start planning.
Once you've bought, I'll reach out via email to find out your groups needs and preferences, book a time and date, and settle on a menu. From there, I'll put together a shopping list for your group, and check in with you in the days leading up to your class to make sure you're all good and everything is on track. I'll also be available by phone, text and email in case you or anyone in your group has questions. On the day of, I'll send out a private, password-protected Zoom link, and we'll meet there at the time we scheduled. I'll take us through everything we'll need for a great time and a great meal together.
Looking forward to cooking with you and yours!