Online Cooking Courses Led by Famous Chefs

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  • YesChef offers online cooking classes by famed chefs like Francis Mallman and Nancy Silverton.
  • I tried the platform and was mesmerized by Francis Mallman’s class on live-fire cooking. 
  • However, it’s only 19 hours of content, which doesn’t justify the $180 subscription in my opinion.  

“I have two lovers in life that I’ve never slept with: The city of Paris and potatoes.” Truer words have never resonated more with me, so when I saw them uttered by Francis Mallman in an Instagram ad for a platform called YesChef, I immediately wanted to know more.

Online learning platforms like MasterClass and Coursera have been incredibly popular during the pandemic, giving people a chance to learn from industry leaders in the comfort of their own homes.

YesChef is a lot like MasterClass and costs the same — an annual $180 membership gets you access to all the video courses — except the platform is entirely dedicated to cooking-related courses from some of the world’s greatest chefs. As a lover of MasterClass and someone who’s dedicated most of my career to writing and thinking about food, YesChef seemed right up my alley and I decided to give it a try. 

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How YesChef works

A screenshot showing the learning platform of YesChef

The YesChef platform features a video player to watch the lessons, along with tabs for the ingredients and recipe steps.

YesChef


Right now, YesChef offers full courses with four chefs: Nancy Silverton, Dario Cecchini, Edward Lee, and Erez Komarovsky. The fifth course with Francis Mallman (the one I’ve seen teased a million times on my Instagram) has been coming out piece by piece, with the full class expected to be available in mid-March. 

The platform itself is easy to use and navigate. Each course page consists of a video player where you can watch the lessons, and several tabs for ingredients, instructions, and feedback (where you can provide your thoughts on the class for YesChef). 

When I took Nancy Silverton’s course, another tab appeared that also walked me through the recipe text step-by-step as I watched Nancy make the food on screen. I think it’s nice for those who want to cook along, but a bit distracting if you’d prefer to watch now and cook later. 

Review of YesChef

The content that YesChef offers is pretty phenomenal. The production is beautiful and high quality (I’m reminded of


Netflix

‘s “Chef’s Table”) and the courses are inspiring. I’ve watched Dario Cecchini’s, Nancy Silverton’s, and what’s currently available of Francis Mallman’s classes and I thought they were all feasts for the eyes. They sparked my curiosity and inspired me to get into the kitchen. 

Francis Mallman’s class is particularly awe-inspiring. I could listen to his calm, graceful manner of speaking – often comparing food ingredients to love poems – all day, every day. His specialty is live-fire cooking — something normally covered in culinary school — and it’s fascinating to watch. One of my favorite modules was the Roasted Chicken with Rescoldo Vegetables, which Mallman cooks by hanging the food via wire over a large fire; the whole chickens, pineapple, and cabbage dancing in the air like beautiful, meaty wind chimes. 

whole chickens, pineapple, and cabbage hang over a fire from wires in Francis Mallman’s YesChef class.

For Mallman’s Roasted Chicken with Rescoldo Vegetables, chicken, pineapple, and cabbage are suspended by wires to cook over the fire.

YesChef


“Dream with me,” Mallman says in the class as chickens sway from wires in the background. Yep, this is a dream I’m 100% ready to buy into. The crackle of the fire, the sizzle of coals as chicken fat drips onto them, all in the backdrop of Mallman’s stunning home on a remote island in Patagonia is as much a calming


meditation

as it an instructive course.

Nine different types of potatoes shown on a table as part of Francis Mallman’s YesChef course

Nine different potato recipes are featured in a 30 minute module of Francis Mallman’s YesChef course.

YesChef


My other favorite module, of course, was Mallman’s ode to potatoes (the one that roped me into YesChef in the first place). For half an hour, you watch Mallman cook potatoes in nine different forms over fire: Delicately shingled domino potatoes, pyramid-shaped roast potatoes, paper-thin potato rounds layered into a wreath for pommes Anna. As a potato fiend, I was ready to order a 20-pound box of potatoes and set to work recreating them all. 

YesChef cost and cons to consider

a screenshot of the course offerings from YesChef, with many listed as “coming soon”

While a robust number of chefs and courses are featured on the YesChef website, only a few are currently available, with many listed as “coming soon.”

YesChef


By far the biggest downside with YesChef is what you get for the $180 price tag. So far, the total number of courses adds up to about 20 hours of content, which is a pretty big letdown considering the subscription cost. At a cost of roughly $9 per hour, YesChef is priced significantly more than


streaming

platforms like Netflix and


Hulu

which offer much more content. And, as mentioned before, the same $180 will even buy you a year’s subscription to MasterClass, with a comparative 60 or so hours of cooking classes from the likes of Gordon Ramsey, Alice Waters, Massimo Bottura, and more – not to mention thousands of hours of classes on other topics from negotiation tactics to gardening. 

Not all the classes feel complete, either. Dario Cecchini’s class on Italian butchery has just one module that is 26 minutes long and only covers Dario’s backstory. If you’ve seen the “Chef’s Table” episode featuring Dario on Netflix, you’ve already seen all of what his YesChef course currently has to offer. Two of the five available courses are also missing downloadable coursebooks; without them, it’s a lot more difficult to cook the recipes featured in the classes.

As a former food magazine editor, I also found the written recipes that were available frustratingly written at times. For example: “Cook in a cast iron pan over medium-low flame or in the oven on medium temperature for about 40 minutes.” What exactly is “medium temperature” in an oven? I’d wager it’s probably about 350 degrees? But for $180, I would expect the platform to have recipes with specificity so that I could faithfully recreate them at home.

It’s a shame because I think the individual courses have value and I would readily purchase access to an individual class for $20 or $30. I’d even consider a month-long subscription for a similar price since I could reasonably appreciate all the course offerings in that time frame. But the brand currently only offers the annual subscription, and in my opinion, it just doesn’t have $180 worth of content right now. 

All in all, YesChef feels a bit half-baked for such a premium price. Of course, it’s still in its infancy and has plans to add other courses from cooks like Kwame Onwuachi and Sean Brock in the future, but it’s not clear when those new courses will be available. 

The bottom line

In the absence of adding more content (which I understand has been hard for the brand given the pandemic), I’d like to see YesChef expand its subscription offerings to be more flexible and fairly priced. I would easily recommend YesChef if there was a monthly subscription or an option to buy classes à la carte. 

Until YesChef changes its subscription model or builds its course offerings, I’d recommend that curious chefs check out the cooking classes available on a platform like MasterClass. For the same $180 fee, you can learn from a wider array of cooks plus have access to dozens of classes on other topics.

Trisha Anderson

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