I’m sure none of us wants to hear about it anymore but the world is different today than it was just a few weeks ago. In times of social distancing and lockdown, everyone who’s not still in employment and working from home has to get creative to keep busy (and make money).
Since I’m currently in self-isolation with a dancer and performer – as in my boyfriend Lee – I get to see much more than my own world of photographers and small business owners dealing (and struggling) with this situation. All of Lee’s gigs have been cancelled for the next 3 months. He’s not the only person in this situation, the world is full of musicians and dancers and a lot of them started to do live videos and performances via zoom, Facebook and Instagram to keep doing what they always do – entertain. But Lee decided, instead of hosting lots of live dancing shows, to get creative and turn to another one of his passions: cooking and baking.
For the past month, Lee has been hosting a Facebook live cooking show – just for the sake of it. And because he likes to cook and bake and talk to people at the same time. Now every week he gets a bigger audience and he’s even been connected to a food and cooking group on Facebook called Quarantine Kitchen that supports people getting creative with what they have in their cupboards… People on Facebook are loving the “Dancing Cook” (Lee likes to put on music and add a shuffle while cooking).
Since I got to witness Lee’s Facebook cooking and baking sessions, I started taking photos while he’s live. He didn’t ask me to do this but it’s what I do, I can’t help it. So he’s now got a nice set of images for each recipe to show to his audience. And I need to start thinking about how to create better photos for the end results – but that’s another story. Never thought I might get into food photography!
So far Lee’s made brownies, Johnny cakes, a rum and fruit cake and sausage rolls. And rather than just leaving you with the photos, I decided to interview him about his new venture.
So Lee, how’s your cooking show going? And how did you come up with this idea?
Oh, it’s going great, I love it. Doing these live Facebook sessions gives me a chance to catch up with some old friends I haven’t seen in years while doing something I really enjoy – making a mess in the kitchen.
It all began when the Coronavirus really started to hit the UK. I’m a tap dancer and my season of shows starts around March/April. Within a few days, all my gigs for the next few months got cancelled and I was left with nothing to do. I applied for a few jobs but so far nothing has come out of it. And in the meantime I had to keep busy, so I baked. And then I realised, I could do that on Facebook and entertain others. Somehow this turned into a weekly event now and my friends seem to really enjoy it, so I’ll just keep going. There’s always something to cook or bake that’s worth sharing with others. It also gives me the opportunity to experiment a little.
What do you mean by experiment?
Well, some of my friends are vegan and my girlfriend (note from the editor: that would be me) can’t and won’t have dairy so I try to find substitutes for products or offer alternatives for those who don’t want to eat meat or any other animal products.
Where do you get your recipes from?
A lot of the recipes are from my mum, she’s a great cook. She taught me a lot of dishes and I love food so now that she’s not cooking for me anymore, I try to replicate them. But I also like to try a few new things every now and then, get creative, you know?!
Have you always been cooking and baking?
Again, it all comes down to my mum teaching me. But yes, I’ve always enjoyed cooking and baking. Most of my adult life I spent touring with different shows – you don’t get to cook in hotels so whenever I did spend time at home, I tried to eat healthy and make my own food. Now that I can’t perform on stages around the world, I’ve got lots of time on my hand to catch up on that.
What’s your favourite dish to cook or bake?
My favourite dish would be a curried lamb shank. I’m not sure if I would do this for the live show though – it would be a bit more of a professional production since the lamb needs to be marinaded overnight. I guess I could do it and have one half of it prepared. Maybe that’s something for later down the line…
And do you know what you’re going to make on your next show?
Hm, I’m not sure yet. I might make a risotto maybe but that’s still to be decided.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peek into the life of the Dancing Chef (this is a working title, we’re still trying to come up with ideas for the show). If you’d like to see him cook next time, visit him on Facebook – every Thursday at 5.30pm UK time he’ll whip up something new for you.