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If necessity is the mother of invention then the father could well prove to be the coronavirus
lockdown. People in all walks of life are coming up with new ideas to address the ‘new normal’ - and now a Westcountry woman has developed a fascinating scheme in the world of food and drink that could continue to thrive long after the pandemic has gone.
Larks Live brings the ubiquitous Zoom meeting - which so many of us have been getting used to since the lockdown - together with the basic concept of a cookery school.
While there are countless online cookery videos demonstrating how to prepare just about any dish under the sun, the idea behind Larks Live is that the viewer is included in the lesson - which means the person at home can cook alongside their favourite chef and ask questions, just like they would at a cookery school.
It started with a conversation between Clodagh Murphy and Charlotte Roach. The pair wanted to find a way of helping the badly hit catering world while also supporting food-lovers at home who were feeling lonely or isolated.
A dozen or more well-known chefs, bakers, wine-experts and other experts have already signed up to provide Larks Live with interactive classes which are now available online.
“We’ve brought a fantastic team together and we’ve got more on the way,” says Clodagh. “The classes are already proving a great success and a huge number of repeat bookings. In fact, the feedback we’ve been getting is so good, 97 percent say they will sign up for another class.”
Most of the classes on the Larks Live website cost between £10 and £15 and numbers of participants are limited (to between 12 and 20) so the chef or expert can easily interact with individuals at home during the Zoom session. Participants receive a list of ingredients so that - if they wish - they can purchase everything beforehand and actually join in and cook along in real-time.
“You don’t have to - you can just watch with a glass of wine if you like,” says Clodagh. “But we are finding that around 80 percent of our participants like to cook along with the chef.
“In that way you can say to someone like chef Tim Maddams: ‘My sauce doesn’t look quite the same as yours.’ Or, ‘I haven’t got that ingredient, can I use something else?’ And Tim will react…”
Tim, a well-known private chef, writer, cookery teacher and TV presenter living in Devon,
commented: “I love sharing my passion for food and cooking simple but delicious food with others. Thanks to Larks Live, I have been able to continue doing this despite the current lockdown restrictions. It has been great fun hosting regular live and interactive cook-along sessions with a growing number of fellow foodies, many of which are now regulars on my Friday night Tapas and Tails sessions.”
“When the lockdown hit we wanted to do something that was productive and positive,” says
Clodagh. “People were isolated at home - and people in the hospitality industry were feeling
particularly vulnerable. My dad owns a pub in Dublin so I knew about the problems at a personal level.
“I wondered if we could create a platform which brought all things food-and-drink into people’s homes - something that would bring a sense of community to people so it wouldn’t be just a functional experience…”
By talking to numerous people across the food and drink industry Clodagh evolved a plan which resulted in the Larks Live website hosting its first interactive classes in May.
“The chef or expert sets up the cameras in their own home,” explained Clodagh. “They are used to doing demo’s anyway so they know what’s needed. And they have their laptop or whatever on the counter so they can interact with those at home as they work.
“We stage classes at different times during the day to suit the needs of different individuals at home - and we are creating employment for talented people who have been hard hit.”
But is the idea only suited to the confines of the lockdown?
“Roll this forward 12 months and hopefully we are through the pandemic - and there’s still a huge opportunity here,” replied Clodagh. “Cookery schools are always popular - people want cookery skills. Take a Tuesday night in November when the nights are closing in and you are going to cook something nice for dinner with an expert and some other like-minded people.
“We think there’s a market for this no matter what happens after the lockdown.
You have themes like Christmas. Why not have a series of classes themed to that? How to bake the most amazing Christmas cake! Or a Sunday afternoon bake-along during the winter months…
“There are tons of different angles that can play very positively with this idea.”
For further information on Larks Live, please visit www.larks.live. Follow @Larks.Live on Facebook and @larkslive on Instagram and Twitter.
PR contact: Scarlette Matthews – firstname.lastname@example.org / 07855880758. Please contact Scarlette for more information or images.
Clodagh Murphy is available for any media interviews or discussions.
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