Rouxbe Launches the Crème de la Crème of Online Cooking Schools

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First-of-its-kind online curriculum becomes the go-to website for ‘how-to’ and ‘why-to’ professional culinary instruction

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With the launch of our Rouxbe Cooking School, we have created the world's first true online culinary institute

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Rouxbe.com, the premium online instructional cooking site, has launched the Rouxbe Cooking School. The extensive online school delivers a professional cooking curriculum in high quality, close-up video to home cooks around the world.

The school uses a two-prong approach that is unparalleled in the online cooking world. It pairs excellent “how-to” content, which teaches skills and techniques necessary to drive cooking success, with unique “why-to” content, which helps students really understand cooking and frees them from following recipes. The Rouxbe Cooking School doesn’t just teach students how to cook; it aims to empower them to think for themselves in the kitchen and to create gourmet meals like a professional chef.

Unlike other online cooking sites that focus on recipes, celebrity chefs and short technique videos, the Rouxbe Cooking School is a fully integrated experience that mirrors an actual culinary academy, complete with up-close instructional video, "edible exercises," progress reporting, evaluation quizzes, and chef and community support. The instruction is a fraction of the cost of a program at a traditional culinary institute and takes a quarter of the time to complete, allowing busy home cooks to have their cake and eat it too.

“With the launch of our Rouxbe Cooking School, we have created the world's first true online culinary institute,” said Joe Girard, CEO and co-founder of Rouxbe. “The in-depth lessons show students how and why certain things are done in the kitchen. The School will change how people learn to cook, easily making it one of the greatest things since sliced bread.”

SECRET SAUCE: The Why-To Content

When cooks simply follow a recipe step by step, they often don’t understand why they are doing what they are doing. The result? Their success is hit and miss, and they end up with a single dish from one recipe. However, once at-home cooks start to understand the how’s and why’s of cooking, they can begin to apply this learning to successfully create countless other dishes.

Flour, for example, is one of the basic ingredients in many every day products and recipes. Rather than simply instruct Rouxbe users to add a cup of flour and knead, the School provides students with a foundational lesson that gives students a unique inside look at flour and its magical component, gluten. The School’s instructors start with an entire wheat sheaf and break down the various components that come from the milling process. They then isolate the gluten from the flour in a fascinating demonstration that illustrates the elastic properties that give so many products, like bread, their airy texture and structure. This mini science lesson helps students understand when to develop gluten and when not to, empowering them to have higher success rates with any recipe that uses flour.

Rouxbe’s ‘why-to’ teaching approach is also the reason students will seldom see the amounts of ingredients listed in the supporting School lessons. Instead, the School teaches students how a product should feel, look and taste through guided experiments. This frees them from having to rely on measuring every ingredient.

MEAT ‘N’ POTATOES: The Cooking School Curriculum

Initially 20 lessons have been released, which is approximately 15 percent of the total curriculum. The instructional cooking lessons at launch range from how to properly use your knives and making foundational stocks to making fresh pasta and cooking the perfect premium steaks.

The complete curriculum includes approximately 130 courses, comprising more than 700 instructional videos shot in high-definition instructional format. The entire School will be released by the end of 2008.

Each lesson features edible exercises, supporting recipes, evaluation quizzes and progress reporting. Quiz questions will use video to ensure that students grasp the key visual and auditory cues that are critical to each lesson. For example, in the section on cooking the perfect premium steak, the quiz asks, ''Which of the following steaks is being cooked at the right temperature?'' There are three videos and the student has to listen to the sizzle, compare and then pick the correct temperature based on the auditory cues.

CHERRY ON TOP: Why Learn To Cook Online?

The site offers macro views of techniques being demonstrated that aren’t possible in a large classroom of an actual culinary school. In fact, instructors at the Northwest Culinary Academy (NWCAV), based in Vancouver, B.C., have used the Rouxbe video on how to hone a knife, citing that the close-up footage provided in the video is much more effective in teaching this skill than in-class demonstrations. Now these same instructors will have additional videos to supplement their lessons.

“I’ve been teaching people how to cook for 15 years and I can honestly say that the Rouxbe Cooking School can teach some concepts better than I can and in much less time,” said Tony Minichiello, Rouxbe culinary instructor, co-owner of NWCAV and avid blogger. “Video, if well scripted and performed, is the tool of the future for any culinary learner.”

The Rouxbe kitchen crew works meticulously to boil down each and every lesson to cover the most critical points through voice-overs and visuals. The module on pasta took an entire week to produce. This included hours of perfecting the script, shooting the key critical points, finding the best camera angles, and editing in the sound room. The end result is a 20-minute, concise video lessons that replaces one to two hours of classroom time.

The advantage of a live classroom is, of course, feedback and tastings. But at Rouxbe, students can review techniques again and again and their supporting instructional cooking videos are driving very high success ratings. Plus Rouxbe videos are edited to optimize learning so students don’t have to wait for things to cook in every demonstration. Furthermore, they can connect on-demand to community forums for interaction when desired. Minichiello estimated that the Rouxbe Cooking School cuts at least 75 percent, if not more, of the teaching time.

Gagan Diesh, Rouxbe director of design, said, “You can tell when you step into the well-designed kitchen of a professional chef by the appliances, the layout, the utensils. You’ll have a similar experience when you virtually visit Rouxbe.com and our school and see the rich content, premium videos and evaluations. Why? Our team not only has expertise in cooking, we understand how people learn. Our instructional design creates a fantastic user experience that brings a new level of cooking instruction directly into your kitchen.”

At the Rouxbe Cooking School, anyone can receive a professional-grade culinary training from the comfort of their own home. Its online format means that cooks can learn at their own convenience, anywhere and anytime.

PREHEAT YOUR OVEN AND SIGN UP

Access to the Rouxbe Cooking School is included with every Premium Membership to Rouxbe. An Annual Membership costs $99; a Premium Lifetime Membership costs $199. Rouxbe contributes 15 percent of all Membership fees to Rouxbe for Life, which donates to hunger relief agencies that focus on sustainability, in an effort to help solve and raise awareness for the chronic-hunger crisis in developing countries. The purchase of one annual Premium Membership feeds about 60 children.

To take a free tour of the Rouxbe Cooking School, simply visit Rouxbe.com and sign up for a free 30-day membership. Bon appétit!

ABOUT ROUXBE

Rouxbe.com (roo-be) is the premium online instructional cooking site – the place to go online if you want to learn how to cook. Unlike many cooking sites that focus on celebrities, Rouxbe celebrates food by delivering close-up technique and skill instruction to aspiring at-home cooks seeking solutions that drive successful results each and every time. Created by two professional chefs, Joe Girard and Dawn Thomas, Rouxbe.com was launched in 2006. The Vancouver, B.C.-based company also offers its rich content through a brand-exclusive engagement tool to premium partners like HarperCollins Canada, Dean & DeLuca, and MetroKitchen. To see what’s cooking at Rouxbe, visit Rouxbe.com.

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Deborah Pleva
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