For someone like myself – a young, part-time worker who has chronic illnesses and limited disposable cash – treating myself to a meal at an upscale or 'celebrity-chef' restaurant is sadly a rare occurrence.
However, there's been something happening during COVID-19 lockdown that's had my food-loving heart beating happier than ever: chefs who I adore have been sharing their recipes, techniques, tips and just general love for cooking on social media.
I absolutely adore cooking – it relaxes me, allows me to be creative, and it helps me manage the symptoms of my chronic and mental illness. I didn't always, though. It was through treating my conditions that I discovered that I could practice mindfulness while chopping vegetables, stirring sauce and sautéing soffritto.
It also helped me care more about my health and nutrition. By thinking about what I was putting into my body, I discovered a passion for the look and smell of fresh ingredients, the aromas of spices and herbs, and the different ways flavours meld together to create something new and exciting.
So, watching some of my favourite chefs and restaurateurs share their passion for cooking online has been an absolute blessing for my brain and body during this pandemic isolation.
There's been something happening during COVID-19 lockdown that's had my food-loving heart beating happier than ever.
David Chang, creator of the expansive Momofuku restaurants and star of Netflix's Ugly Delicious, has been sharing his favourite home cooking recipes via posts and live streams on Instagram.
From a simple yet delicious scallion noodle recipe to sharing tips on the various ways to cook a cost-effective chuck cut of beef, Chang's Instagram is a verified bank of knowledge and advice on how to make the most comforting meals while in isolation.
Same goes for Claire Saffitz, the grey-streaked baking goddess from the Bon Appetit test kitchen. Since she's been working and filming from home, Claire's been posting recipe after recipe on her Instagram, including tips on bread baking and fresh takes on comfort dishes like pancakes and xiao long bao (soup dumplings).
Actually, this goes for pretty much all of the BA kitchen staff – they're sharing so much delicious content that you'd be silly not to follow them all.
Locally, restaurant legends such as Dan Hong (Mr. Wong) and Mitch Orr (ACME, Ciccia Bella) have been sharing incredible content too.
While Hong has been filming as he tests dishes such as slow-roasted short ribs and salt-and-pepper squid, Orr has been posting detailed recipes of his favourite pasta dishes from his restaurants and home cooking. The Arrabiata with added spiciness of lao gan ma is next up on my list of dishes to give a go. My partner made me Orr's dairy-free carbonara one night recently too – it was so simple yet astoundingly tasty.
I'm also psyching myself up to try and make the flatbread recipe that head chef of Nomad, Jacqui Challinor, posted a few weeks ago. Baking has never been my strong suit, but all this wonderful food knowledge being gifted to us has inspired me to be more daring and experimental.
I'm determined to use this extra time at home to develop some new skills. Plus pandemic-related stress calls for as many comfort carbs as possible, no?
A global pandemic lockdown has definitely been a time of high tension and heightened fears and has affected so many livelihoods, including for those in the hospitality industry. So it's been so heartening to see food industry legends not only share their passion for the food itself but also their dedication to sharing their vast epicurean knowledge to bring people together during a scary and uncertain time.
Cooking is such a heavenly (and productive!) way to calm your nerves, express creativity and take some time for yourself. With the help of some of the world's most beloved chefs, it has absolutely helped me manage my illnesses, learn new things, stay positive, and quell my anxiety during this remarkably strange stretch of isolation.