Chef Paula is ready to make Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes in a muffin tin. (Photo by Michael Herman/Cooking With Stars)

Chef Paula Gottlieb Herman, owner of Cooking With Stars, is revamping how she teaches kids to cook to adapt to social-distancing mandates during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chef Paula transitioned her in-person cooking sessions to virtual ones. Over the next 24 hours, Chef Paula and her husband, Michael, transformed their dining room into a cooking studio. They set up cameras, light stands, microphones, laptop, upgraded to a Zoom pro account, and purchased video capture hardware so students could view her classes with multiple camera angles. 

“It was incredible seeing students in their own kitchens, asking questions, and showing their progress,” she said of her first remote class teaching middle school students how to make broccoli cheddar skillet mac and cheese on March 16. “They toasted seasoned breadcrumbs, boiled pasta, created a velvety cheese sauce, put the dish together, plated it, and sat down to eat and review what they made.” 

For 14 semesters, she offered her popular K-4 after-school cooking program in the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District. Students from many other school districts throughout Nassau and Suffolk have also enjoyed her enrichment programs over the years.

But in recent weeks, more school districts began benefiting from these virtual workshops, including currently enrolled students from Locust Valley, Northport, and Commack. In addition to their virtual after-school classes, Cooking With Stars has created holiday workshops for Passover, Easter, and Mother’s Day as well as a Sunday Brunch series.

Chef Paula also serves the community by providing free access to some of these programs for families from the nonprofit KiDS Need MoRE who are dealing with cancer and trauma, along with some children of frontline workers, and those recently laid off.    

“COVID-19 has turned the world as we know it upside down,” she said. “But joining our virtual after-school classes will provide a sacred space for students to be creative, ask questions, learn new recipes, use tools of the week, see classmates, and meet new ones. Recipes with ingredient lists are posted prior to each class.”

The classes run in six-week sessions.

“In the comfort of family kitchens, chefs and their siblings have been making appetizers, pastas, quesadillas, dips, seasonal favorites, brunch, and desserts,” she added. “Students enrolled in our six-week after-school classes already knew the high quality of our lessons. But now, they are able to tackle even more exciting recipes since the dishes showcased are being made in their own kitchens, not an art room, music room, or classroom.”

At the end of each session, the class samples what they made together and discuss it.

“Unlike our in-person classes that are purchased in six-week blocks, our virtual classes are more flexible,” she continued. 

Participants can purchase single classes for $22, or join the Cooking With Stars Loyalty Club, and receive a 20 percent discount. Siblings can to take part at no additional charge.

“We are all in this together,” she said. “Our virtual classes are getting families into the kitchen, helping them make new memories, sharpening life skills, and providing a way to keep us connected!”

For more information about Cooking With Stars after-school or holiday programs, visit cookingwithstars.com

Related Story: 7 Fun Socially Distant Things To Do On Long Island

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Cooking With Stars’ chefs in Grades K-4 give their thumbs up during a virtual workshop. (Photo by Michael Herman/Cooking With Stars)
Hudson’s Mom says, “Hudson cooked & plated our dessert tonight. Thank you Chef Paula! She’s so proud.
We all agreed it’s restaurant quality and it was her idea with the mint, berries and ice cream. Thank you.” (Photo by Michael Herman/Cooking With Stars)
Chef Paula shows tools and ingredients to make Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes. (Photo by Michael Herman/Cooking With Stars)
Chef Paula showcasing Individual Banana Chocolate Chip Pancake Stacks. (Photo by Michael Herman/Cooking With Stars)
Chef Paula with her Easter Treats Workshop Display including Marshmallow Bunny Pops, Easter Basket Donut Hole Pops, and Easter Oreo Bark. (Photo by Michael Herman/Cooking With Stars)
Chef Paula showing her platter of Crispy Corn Fritters and Sriracha Crema. (Photo by Michael Herman/Cooking With Stars)
Ingredients for Making Crispy Corn Fritters. (Photo by Michael Herman/Cooking With Stars)
Celebrating National Grilled Cheese Month (April) with a lesson on Pizzadillas-a mashup of a pizza and a quesadilla. (Photo by Michael Herman/Cooking With Stars)
Cooking With Stars Pre-Mother’s Day Virtual Brunch 5/3 at 10:00 AM. Kids and Dads will make a 3-course brunch for Mom! (Photo by Michael Herman/Cooking With Stars)
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