Enjoying a Virtual Vegan Italian Cooking Experience with Drool

I never imagined that the COVID-19 pandemic would put Melburnians into a Stage 4 lockdown. The city, renowned for its multicultural flair and passion for incredible food, has been reduced to almost a ghost town. Cafés and restaurants are either shut or trading in takeaway and Melburnians are spending almost all their time indoors at home.

To shake things up, I thought I’d try something a little different. I accepted an invitation to join Nadia Fragnito of The Vegan Italian Kitchen for her one-off virtual vegan tiramisu cooking event, hosted by Drool. To be honest, I’d never done an online cooking class before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I be able to follow along? Will my cooking be a complete flop? Could I even keep up? Is my WIFI going to drop out? I knew I had to explore this experience and find out for myself.

So, how does a Drool online cooking experience work?

Drool is an online cooking forum that hosts live online cooking events to help connect people through food experiences. Its one-off live events inspire people from a range of cooking skill-sets to try a new dish, or learn a new cooking technique. All cooking events are hosted by culinary experts including professional chefs, MasterChef contestants and even contestants from the SBS series The Chef’s Line. We all have a common love of food, and Drool’s cooking classes helps us all bond during this time of uncertainty.

To get involved, you just head to the Drool website, click on the experience you’d like to try and purchase your ticket. All experiences run for an hour and a half, and cost $15.00 each. Once you’ve booked your ticket, you are emailed a confirmation that includes Zoom call details, recipe and ingredients list. Given the specialised skills on offer, the ticket price is reasonable and affordable. You can book your experience up to a day or so before the event, but I recommend booking in quickly in case your experience sells out. Don’t forget to check all events for vegan events and those  that can accommodate for vegan dietary requirements (not all events are vegan).

Great, you’ve booked your experience! Where to from here?

Another reason whyyou should book in advance is because you can buy the ingredients before the day. This is especially important if you need to locate special ingredients. Finding the ingredients for Nadia’s vegan tiramisu recipe was super-easy; all ingredients can be found at your local supermarket. If you prefer to watch the class, that’s OK! This is a bonus when it comes to booking a Drool cooking event.  You are in complete control of your experience. You can sit back and learn or you can get your hands dirty and dive into the fun of a live cook-along. It’s entirely up to you. Remember that your experience is live, so don’t forget to join in. You’ll be emailed a reminder 24 hours prior.

Your cooking day has arrived. What should you do?

Another great thing about Drool’s experiences is that you have time to prep your ingredients and cooking utensils at the start. This is also a lovely time to talk to chef Nadia and Penny (the smart woman behind the Drool concept) and your cooking group. It’s a relaxed and exciting vibe because everyone is learning at the same time but in the comfort of their own kitchens.

If you like to be organised, then I suggest prepping your kitchen before the experience starts. That way, you have everything measured out and ready to go. Plus, you can read the instructions before the experience starts and order your ingredients and utensils according to the steps. Then, log in a few minutes before starting time. It’s best to use a laptop so you have full view of everyone in the event including the chef.

Are the recipes easy to follow?

Absolutely! In the case of Nadia’s vegan tiramisu experience, there are three main stages to the recipe. Nadia talks you through each stage thoroughly and clearly, while cheering you on along the way. Plus, she gives you insider knowledge about the dish, its origins and how easy it is to make it vegan. This is particularly useful for non-vegan participants that want to know more about the vegan ingredients they’re using. Vegans and non-vegans are made to feel included and welcome, and they’re empowered to make a dish that’s often left to the experts.

Is the Drool experience a social one?

Of course! Penny from Drool gives you time to break out with one another in rooms so you can get to know each other. Equally, Nadia encourages loads of interaction during the experience – from asking the participants to reveal the soft peaks of their whipped aquafaba or their silky custard  as it’s cooked on the stove, to the beautiful finished product that’s ready to pop in the fridge. There’s also lots of tasting and spoon-licking afterwards. Being a live experience means you can also learn new knowledge from your classmates or even share your own. Connections are easily formed and the experience feels like a collaborative one. Just make sure the volume on your device is working well!

Will you be able to keep up with the pace?

An hour and a half for each experience is ample time to create the dish you’ve booked in for. Nadia’s vegan tiramisu was a straight-forward recipe and she was more than ready to answer questions throughout the experience. You work at a steady pace, and you’re not under pressure or stress in any way. The relaxed pace of the experience puts you at ease; if you’re like me you may enter a state of relaxed flow. And, I think this is where the strength of Drool’s experiences lies.

While we may be in lockdown, we can still connect online and enjoy a fabulously fun food experience that we’ve never tried before. We can forget about lockdown for a couple of hours and bring a new and exciting activity into our lives.

Drool and Nadia – thank you for helping me explore a new vegan food adventure and forget about Melbourne’s lockdown for a night. What better way to do that than with a drool-worthy vegan tiramisu experience. Mangia!

You can learn more about Drool’s live cooking experiences by vising their website. Nadia’s next live vegan event is this Sunday, August 23, at 2.00pm when you can learn how to make vegan Italian olive oil cake. You can book your spot here.

You can also learn more about Nadia Fragnito over at her website The Vegan Italian Kitchen. You can read her interview with Fire & Tea here.

Disclaimer: Justine de Jonge of Fire & Tea was invited as a guest by Nadia Fragnito to participate in Drool’s vegan tiramisu experience on Sunday, August 16, 2020. 

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