Why just watch HGTV or the Food Network when you can DIY at home with a live instructor? That’s the beauty of interactive online classes that will elevate your Zoom cocktail parties to fun, hands-on events, often with ingredients and supplies delivered to your door. Here are a few local options to get you started.
Charcuterie and Flower Arranging
Pre-pandemic, Boston-based Alice’s Table ran in-person events at venues like Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, but online classes and private parties are just as fun. Expert instructors teach participants how to create Pinterest-worthy charcuterie boards and flower arrangements, and just like with in-person classes, Alice’s Table provides all the materials you’ll need, whether it’s farm-fresh flowers or a selection of meats and cheeses from Harry & David. The only difference is they’re delivered to your door.
“We send you everything you need the week of the workshop,” says Laura Campbell, head of product and customer experience for Alice’s Table.
Look for early spring flower arranging classes like “Spring in Antibes,” which features blooms like mini green hydrangeas, pink roses, white spray irises, white calla lilies, and thistle, and “Four-Leaf Clover,” an arrangement with orange roses, peach spray roses, trick dianthus, white spider mums, and bells of Ireland. alicestable.com/events
Hanging out with friends on Zoom can be…boring. But add a few Indian spices, a delicious recipe, and an engaging teacher like Shilpi Ranjan, owner and culinary instructor at Andover-based EZCompliments, and you’ll have an amazing night that’s anything but a snooze.
“It’s an interactive class where you’re learning something together,” she says. Ranjan shifted from in-person to online classes during the pandemic, and now she offers a mix of scheduled classes and private sessions where she cooks along with participants to make dishes like chicken tikka masala, palak paneer, and mango lassi.
Students “can see what’s happening in my pan,” Ranjan says, and can ask questions as they work, since the classes are intimate and interactive. Before each class, Ranjan sends students a list of ingredients for them to have ready during the class. She also mails each student a packet of the Indian spices that they’ll need for each dish they’re cooking together. ezcompliments.com
“Art is a big stress reliever,” says Raksha Soni, owner of Burlington-based Brush & Paisley, which makes her online art classes an especially fun and necessary activity right now. They’re also effective for artwork because of the close-up, one-on-one opportunity for instruction they provide. Brush & Paisley offers a variety of classes for adults and kids (including school vacation week classes).
For instance, winter adult classes include ones devoted to different painting techniques, like the Indian folk art of Kalamkari painting. For kids, find classes ranging from step-by-step cartoon drawing to school vacation painting workshops. Soni adds that her classes are for everyone, not just those who have art experience. “You don’t need any special talent or something within you to pursue art,” she says. “Never be hesitant to try something new and express yourself through art.” brushandpaisley.com
Among the Cambridge Center for Adult Education’s tasty array of online food, cooking, wine, beer, and spirits classes, you’ll find Hungarian cooking classes taught by Krisztina Perron, chef/owner of the Amesbury-based BONS-winner The Wooden Spoon Catering Company. Students can cook along with Perron via Zoom (they get the recipes and ingredient/supply lists beforehand) to make appetizers, main courses, and desserts. Menu items might include stuffed cabbage with sour cream, goulash, fasirt (breaded and fried meatloaf bites) chicken paprika, apple strudel, and Hungarian crepes called palacsinta. With Perron’s expert direction, you’ll be flipping palacsinta before you know it. ccae.org/classes
Other Online Learning
Virtual learning means that your online classroom options have no geographical limits. Check out these other classes:
+ Taste Buds Kitchen: Classes for kids and adults will teach you how to make dishes like handmade gnocchi, ramen, bagels, and so much more. Private cooking events also available. tastebudskitchen.com/online-cooking-classes
+ American School of Flower Design: Classes include the flowers and supplies you’ll need shipped to your house before the class begins. flowerschool101.com/product-category/online-floral-design-classes
+ The Chef & The Dish: Join private cooking classes with chefs from around the world. Learn paella from a chef who’s cooking with you from Spain, jambalaya from a chef in New Orleans, and arroz con pollo from a chef in Peru. thechefandthedish.com
+ Mei Mei: Make dumplings, hand-pulled noodles, and more at home with instructors from Boston-based Mei Mei Restaurant. meimeiboston.com/classes
+ Cass School of Floral Design: Enroll in flower arranging classes for every level and interest, from making flower crowns and wedding bouquets to professional training with this Watertown-based school. cassflowers.com