Shane greets the people attending the weekly, online Zoombaya cooking class with a smile and a warm hello. This isn’t the first time Shane has been in a cooking class but it is the first time he’s teaching and yet he seems comfortable in the role.
“I wasn’t nervous because I knew the people in the class,” he’ll say later.
The online cooking classes were first created during the pandemic and they continue to be a popular way for people to connect with each other and pick up some practical cooking skills. Up until recently, these classes were led twice a week by Life Skills Worker, Jonathan (they are now led by Life Skills Worker, Sam.) But when Jonathan went on vacation this summer, his colleague Krista came up with an idea that would keep the class going.
“I meet with Shane every Thursday afternoon and one of the things we’ll do is prepare a meal together,” Krista says. “When we realized that Jonathan was going to be away, I asked him if he’d like to run the class online.”
Krista had observed that during the pandemic, Shane’s cooking skills and his enjoyment of preparing meals developed as he was forced to become more independent in the kitchen. She thought that he might enjoy sharing those skills with his friends. Shane didn’t hesitate.
“When Krista asked me, I said ‘yup’,” he says with a smile.
Shane chose a pasta dish because pasta is one of his favourite foods. He loves lasagna but that’s a dish he usually buys pre-made so that he can heat it up. For the online class, Shane made a tomato-based sauce with ground pork, peppers, and onions.
Although his enjoyment of cooking has been developing of late, he has been cooking for years. He remembers watching his mother cook – and sneaking food from the pot – and then cooking alongside his mother. Shane has been with Communitas for many years and has participated in in-person cooking classes led by staff in the Community Living Program (CLP.) He has also participated in the Zoombaya classes with Jonathan but moving to the other side of the camera was different.
I loved it. It was really interesting. – Shane, Zoombaya Chef
Shane believes that anyone can learn the basics of cooking as long as they have good support. He suggests that someone start by watching cooking shows on TV or finding a good cooking class to join. Krista hopes that others might be inspired by Shane’s example and try something that they’re not sure they’ll be good at.
“If there’s something you’re wanting to learn, or something that you think you would never be good at, I hope you’ll try, or ask for help to try, or try again,” she says. “I hope Shane inspires you to keep trying until you learn!”
As for teaching a cooking class, Shane thinks he would do it again if he was given the opportunity. And what would he cook?
“Hmm. Maybe lasagna!” he says. “The stove-top kind.”