The person who invented the concept of sheltering in place must have had a great place to shelter and fun people to do it with. I have neither. Among the things I miss most: cooking with people. Rushing to aid: The folks at 2 Spring, chef Jesse Schenker’s Oyster Bay restaurant.
A few weeks back, Schenker launched a “couples night, no-contact, cook-along.” Here’s how it works. You phone up Jordan Lari, 2 Spring’s restaurant director. He asks what you’d like to eat as well as your “culinary competence and comfort level,” as he puts it.
What happens next is something of a cross between a meal delivery kit (minus the subscription requirement) and an online cooking course (minus the impersonal, PBS feel). The 2 Spring team shops for all the ingredients necessary so the two of you can prepare a complete restaurant-quality meal — starter or salad, entree, side. They throw in a companionable bottle of wine, too. (Lari is also 2 Spring’s resident wine expert.)
After you’ve picked everything up (delivery is also available to certain areas) and head home, and just before panic sets in, you fire up the Zoom machine for a prearranged session with Schenker. He is in 2 Spring’s kitchen, you are in yours, cooking along. About an hour later, after he has patiently walked you through the meal step-by-step and shown you “some of the little tricks you pick up at a restaurant over the years,” victory is yours. You and your beloved bid Schenker adieu, logoff, sit down and dine-out-in.
“The whole thing has blossomed quickly,” says Lari of 2 Spring’s new offering, noting that couples are welcome to invite friends to cook along with the chef in their own kitchens, which brings down the cost. (It starts at $300 per couple, with price breaks for multiples.) Recently, a whopping 15 couples simultaneously cooked along with Schenker, a logistical challenge that 2 Spring somehow pulled off. “We had to say ‘basically everyone is on mute and if you have something to say you have to notify the administrator, and then maybe we’ll let you speak,’” says Lari with a laugh.
“The difference between a great roasted chicken and a mediocre roasted chicken is informed by a lifetime of experience,” he adds. “What I think is cool is when we can show people a couple of tricks that they might not have ever seen that transform their roast chicken from mediocre to something approaching restaurant-quality.”
2 Spring is at 2 Spring St. in Oyster Bay, 516-624-2411, 2springstreet.com.