Virtual Cooking Classes & Online Foodie Experiences | Navigating the New Normal

How we’re experimenting with virtual cooking classes and online foodie experiences — and why! 

At the end of January, I packed my suitcase with a mix of emotions. I was about to spend two nights away from my babies– for the first time. It was the Devour Tours annual summit and it was also my first time back to work in nearly six months. I was definitely ready, but also anxious, nervous, and emotional.

Devour Tours Summit 2020
Little did I know the future would be nothing like this presentation!

Our annual summit is a way for our team to gather around our mission: to connect curious travelers to local food and people in a way that helps culture thrive. 

We give presentations on lessons learned, share skills, and layout our plans for the future, and in between, we eat, drink, and take our own team building tours. It’s great fun and this year we left on a huge high, in full momentum to achieve our big goals for the future.

Devour Tours Barcelona Summit
Brainstorming together at our summit.

Little did we know what was lurking around the corner. 

When we realized the enormous impact of CoVid-19 and decided to keep fighting, the first thing we did was go back to our mission. 

Read more about the business decisions we’ve taken here. 

We asked ourselves – how can we keep delivering on our mission, even when our in-person food tours aren’t an option? 

Our Lockdown Cookbook

Our first solution was to bring our tours’ tastes into kitchens around the world by creating a unique and interactive cookbook. I talk about the book in this post — and it’s been a great success so far. People from all over the world have emailed us and tagged us with pictures of what they’ve been cooking! 

Espinacas con garbanzos recipe
I contributed my favorite chickpeas and spinach recipe!

Virtual Cooking Classes & Online Experiences

One of the next things we considered was “virtual tours”. A virtual food tour? We were skeptical to start. 

But when we started to treat it as a whole new experience — and not as a replacement for the excellent tours we do in person — we began to believe.

And the excitement grew.

We attended dozens of virtual tours and online experiences from other tour companies, observing what worked and what didn’t.

We surveyed our former guests and fans about what types of experiences they’d be interested in booking, and why.

We opened a Devour Tours “Test Kitchen” and started running value-packed free live classes and seminars on Facebook and Instagram (these are still happening — sign up for our newsletter for the weekly schedule!).

And our experiences began taking shape!  

Jess online experience Devour Tours
Jess leads us on a Paris wine and cheese experience!

As we narrowed down what would make a distinguished Devour online experience we decided:

  • The key to every experience has to be connection and interaction — we must offer more than what you can get from a YouTube video or Netflix documentary.
  • Virtual cooking classes will be led by local chefs and home cooks — live from their own kitchens! You’ll get a sense of place and a peek into their lives as well as a chance to cook along and ask questions.
  • Our unique online food and drink experiences will mix history, storytelling, and practical tips for eating, drinking, pairing, serving, and tasting.
  • As with our food tours, we’ll run small groups (or private!) allowing for interaction with the guide/chef as well as the other guests. This means a higher price point but we think the difference in quality is well worth it and it’s one of the main reasons it’s so different than watching a great YouTube video.

We all realized that the thing we’ve missed the most these months is human connection. And when taking online experiences ourselves we were surprised at just how fun and fulfilling an hour with fellow open-minded people could be! 

So what do you think? Here are some of the reasons you might join us:

  • You’re bored on lockdown and want a fun way to pass the time
  • You’d like to learn something new or brush up on a skill
  • You’d like to escape to the kitchens of Europe with a cooking class live from one of our cities
  • You’d like to reconnect with your local guide from one of our tours
  • You’d like to entertain the family with something new (hook up to your TV and everyone can watch/participate together– prices are per screen)
  • You want to plan a date night with your partner — cooking Roman pasta perhaps?
  • You want to meet up with friends (even if they’re in other homes, cities, or countries!) over a fun activity
  • You want to entertain your kids (and educate them) while they’re away from the classroom

Here’s what we’re launching with:

Three essential Roman pasta dishes: cacio e pepe, carbonara and amatriciana.
Make Roman pastas with Abbie — glass of wine encouraged!

You can see all of the experiences (and book!) here. 

And if you have any feedback for us at all — we are all ears and would really appreciate it. Navigating the new normal is not easy and we’re doing our best to survive and grow! Send me an email with any thoughts. Muchas gracias!

Comments

  1. Hi Lauren. Am I being dumb here? Are the virtual classes and experiences free or do you pay a subscription since both are mentioned in the piece I just read? Could you clarify please? Many thanks, Margaret

    1. Hi Margaret – we are offering both! We do weekly free events on Facebook Live and then have paid small-group Zoom experiences too. You can see all our paid experiences here (devourtours.com/tours) and for the free ones follow us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter (on the website!)

  2. Hi Lauren, I am looking at the cook pasta like a roman with Abbie, tour, is this tour private, if not, how many screen tickets are available? Is there any sort of package that can be tailored/put together?

    1. Hi there Erika! We sell a max of about 15 screens, and each screen is generally 1-2 people watching/participating. We do also offer the option to make the experience private, which has been popular thus far for birthdays and date nights! Please feel free to email us at [email protected] and we’ll set something up for you.

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