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'See you in the kitchen' | Sacramento culinary professionals host virtual 'cook in'

Options for social activities while maintaining social distancing are limited, but Last Supper Society might have Friday night plans covered.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Viet-Cajun gumbo? "North of Tokyo" noodles? Or how about some spring potato stew? Two Sacramento creatives have crafted a space for people to gather and hone their cooking skills — it's called The Cook In, and it's hosted on Instagram Live every Friday night. 

Chef Byron Hughes is the self-proclaimed "food guy" of The Cook In and co-founder Ryan Royster manages the events and marketing.

"It's more than cooking or learning how to make a dish," Hughes explained. "It's the idea of people coming together — that social aspect."

The Cook In is close to a streamed version of what Royster and Hughes were ready to launch before shelter-in-place orders began, an experiential, experimental dining club called Last Supper Society.

While they still plan on getting back to in-person dining events, the two founders decided to focus on how guests could enjoy food virtually in the meantime. 

"Let's be honest, people are at home, we're sheltered in place, and we don't have a ton of things to do, they’ve ran through the entire Netflix catalog," Royster explained. "We're going to get the weekend going and really give people something to look forward to."

Hughes has 10 years of experience in kitchens and creating dishes as a private chef. He prepares, packages and labels meal kits for guests to purchase and pick up. 

"And then they take all the ingredients out, people tune in live and we all start cooking together," Hughes said. 

In the last five weeks of doing The Cook In, they typically have more than 200 people who tune in, and have sold an average of 120 kits each week, with 10% of proceeds going to a nonprofit of their guest hosts' choice.

Royster says the guests are getting quality meals to prepare, from chicken and dumpling to crispy skin salmon. 

"Everyone at home is creating a gourmet level, restaurant quality meal," Royster said.

While it’s still a way to get together, Hughes and Royster look forward to the day they can get back to face-to-face dining experiences.

"People are going to want to do things and gather when it’s safe to do so," Royster explained. "And I just can't wait to share it. I can't wait to share what we’ve been working on."

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Barbara Bingley.

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