Hundreds of Alberta students who have an extra week of winter vacation take the opportunity to hone their culinary skills with a trained professional.

Julie Van Rosendaal is a cooking expert. She has written cookbooks, articles, and talked about food for most of her life.

But teaching hundreds of kids to cook online? It’s new to her.

She was locked in her home because of the cold temperatures when she got the idea: why not offer free online classes for kids who have more time at home?

“It turned out to be a tsunami of responses,” said Van Rosendaal from the kitchen of his Calgary home.

“I told myself that if there was something I could do to help, I would do it even if it would only help a few families,” she added.

1,000 children

Van Rosendaal posted the tweet from his first online class on Monday morning, it has been shared and liked hundreds of times.

The first class filled up and capped at 1,000 children. She has run three courses since.

Classes start each morning at 10 a.m. and last approximately 90 minutes.

Jenn Wood’s children were among those who learned from Van Rosendaal. She received a message from her sister telling her about the free lessons.

“I was like ‘yeah, how much is that costing? I’ll do anything at this point,'” Wood said from his kitchen in Airdrie.

“We did all the ‘learn to draw’ classes, all the puzzles around the house, we did all the board games, so it happened at the right time,” she said.
Paisley Wood, 10, and her seven-year-old sister Elliott proudly show off their pie they learned to bake in Julie’s class on Wednesday. (Submitted by Jenn Wood)

His daughters, Elliott, seven, and Paisley, 10, were new to cooking before these classes, now they’ve made cookies and pies.

“She had a great time”

“This is my first time cooking and it’s really fun, I got to open the oven today and bake different things,” said Elliott Wood.

Elliott’s older sister Paisley said Van Rosendaal’s online classes make him easy to follow.

“She just takes adult recipes and breaks them down so that it’s much easier for kids to learn,” she said.

Bonita On-Ngan found out about the classes through an Instagram post.

At first she wasn’t sure how her three-year-old daughter, Kaia, would appreciate her, but after the first lesson their sticky cinnamon cookies turned out to be excellent and they are all gone.

“She was actually paying attention to the video, which actually surprised me,” On-Ngan said.

“She had a lot of fun, she thought it was really neat to be able to see so many kids on the screen and she was scrolling,” On-Ngan added.
Three-year-old Kaia On-Ngan shows off her blueberry cookies. (Submitted by Bonita On-Ngan)

Van Rosendaal said there were children in Tuesday’s class from Quadra Island, British Columbia, to St. John’s, Newfoundland.

On Wednesday, she had to add an afternoon class because the morning class was filling up so quickly.

The plan for the rest of the week is to hold two classes per day depending on demand.

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