It was December 2019 when Chef Tyler Poole and garden and agriculture educator Brandee Kitzmiller came up with an idea worth pursuing: cooking classes, delivered straight to your door. The duo planned to visit clients’ homes, bringing all the necessary knowledge, guidance, and supplies needed to make meals happen.
“We wanted to teach [clients] how to make a nice gourmet meal, or even basic cooking skills, in the comfort of their own home without anyone judging them or giving them critique,” said Poole.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Poole and Kitzmiller’s plans came to a halt. The personal approach of door-to-door service would be impossible in the age of social distance. Rather than treating these new circumstances as a setback, the pair found opportunity. With just a bit of adjustment, Poole and Kitzmiller created the virtual services of Island Rose Cooking.
With Island Rose Cooking, Poole and Kitzmiller follow through on their original mission. Clients find a variety of upcoming cooking classes on the business’ website, each one centered around a particular ingredient or meal. Classes are held in real-time via Zoom, often with multiple date options available.
Upon registering, clients receive a list of materials and ingredients necessary to create the meal being featured. Once those materials are obtained, clients are ready to attend and poised for culinary success.
“We’ve enjoyed the Zoom classes a whole lot more than we expected,” Poole said. “We get to meet people from all over the country.”
According to Poole, classes are generally kept between three and five groups. This grants participants a more individualized and informative experience. “If somebody has a question, we’re not having someone else speak over them,” said Poole.
Island Rose Cooking has offered three public Zoom courses since their start in October. “Gnocchi and Pesto” guided participants in creating their own potato-based pasta, and “Gingersnap Cookies & Eggnog” brought seasonal joy (and two dozen cookies) to each household.
Island Rose Cooking’s third class, “Clam Chowder 2 Ways,” tackled both Manhattan- and New England-style chowders. “Because of COVID we weren’t able to have the chowder festival here, and we said, ‘You know what? It would be really awesome to have a chowder class and give people the idea that they’re still enjoying the festival, in a sense,'” said Poole.
Island Rose Cooking has already lined up a new class for those interested. On Feb. 7, Poole and Kitzmiller team with Slough Farm to present “Lamb Dan Dan Noodles,” featuring the local farm’s lamb. This class is a hybrid of virtual and in-person teachings. Participants will first visit Slough Farm for a dumpling-forming demo and to pick up ingredient kits. Island Rose Cooking’s Zoom class will follow that afternoon.
Though classes are primarily public, Island Rose Cooking also offers unlisted, private classes to those interested. One couple recently requested that Poole and Kitzmiller walk them through the basics of cooking. “We were happy to help them out,” said Poole. “Really anything that they want to learn how to do, we can do for them.”
According to Poole, there’s still much to come for Island Rose Cooking. “Come February, there’s probably going to be another class [on the website],” said Poole. “We’re not quite sure what we want to do yet, but we have a ton of brainstormed ideas.”
Moving forward, Poole and Kitzmiller won’t give up on their original vision for Island Rose Cooking. “The end goal of this is still to go into people’s houses — bringing the education to them in their own home,” said Poole.
When Island Rose Cooking does convert to in-person classes, participants are in for a treat. “We’ll bring our own pots and pans, knives and aprons, and they won’t have to clean up afterward. We’ll take all the stuff back with us, and they can enjoy a nice, comfortable meal,” said Poole.
For more information on Island Rose Cooking, visit islandrosecooking.com