Reflecting on A Year of Teaching
+ TONS of upcoming classes
Ever since I was a little kid, I always dreamed of working on cookbooks. I didn’t think much about what I would do after that dream came true. It turns out there’s a lot to be found in new chapters.
Following fifteen years of working on fifteen cookbooks, I decided to combat my burnout by working at a vegetable farm. Then I moved to teaching cooking classes online, which I have been doing nearly every Sunday afternoon for the past year. It has been the most unexpected, delightful turn in my career. You can check out my archive of recorded classes here — there are FIFTY!
I first started teaching online when I published my last* cookbook Simply Julia in March 2021 (*will it be my LAST?! who knows?!). Since the publication coincided with the pandemic, all of the promotion happened online. Some of the events I did were online classes and I discovered that I loved doing them.
I used to avoid doing cooking classes and demonstrations because they made me nervous (you can read more about that in this piece I wrote for Bon Appétit — more on that piece below). But doing them from my home kitchen changed everything. I got to be in the place that I am most comfortable and everyone joining didn’t have to just sit and observe — they could also be in their home kitchens and cook with me.
This has made me a better teacher. When something doesn’t go as planned in my kitchen, I embrace it as an opportunity to think out loud — to work through the situation in real time. When something doesn’t go as planned in someone else’s kitchen, they can let me know and we are able to troubleshoot together.
Teaching cooking classes online has allowed me to continue all the parts of cookbook making that I love (creating menus + recipes, giving clear instructions, suggesting ways to riff on things, bringing people who love to cook together in one place) and skip the parts that I didn’t love (feeling distance between me and the people who cook my recipes, feeling competitive with other authors, feeling competitive with…myself, feeling limited by the space on the page, etc.).
I am also so much more relaxed in my classes than I’ve ever been in writing. While I take each class and the people who attend seriously, the whole situation feels much more loose and low stakes than PUBLISHING A BOOK. I have a lot of fun in my classes and I think the people who join me have fun, too. At the end of the day, that’s when I enjoy home cooking the most. When it’s fun. It can be fun! It can be *not* stressful. It can be a sure thing.
I’m so excited to continue teaching next year and already have a bunch of very fun classes planned. I’m going to continue to teach full menus with lots of variations, and will also be introducing a new class once a month or so called ‘For the Week Ahead’ that will include a handful of recipes that can happily sit in your fridge (or on your counter) for a few days, plus lots of ideas of how to mix-and-match items. Basically we’ll spend part of Sunday afternoon together to set ourselves up for the week ahead. I’m also going to do more ‘Cooking + Eating Together Without Judgment’ classes to continue to make a safe space for those of us exploring what it is to repair our relationships to our bodies.
I will also continue to use my classes to raise money for organizations doing meaningful work in a variety of ways. Over the past year I’ve been able to donate thousands of dollars (!!!) to the following organizations thanks to all of the great folks who cook with me:
A few more highlights from this year of teaching include:
Getting to work with Haley who moderates the chat in all of my classes and is just a terrific person to have in your corner. Haley is so good at answering everyone’s questions and keeping the conversation going and just being such a warm presence. If you’re in Des Moines, definitely check out her weekly to-go meal service! I always wish I lived closer so I could eat Haley’s food every Wednesday evening.
In June, I got to write a piece for Bon Appétit’s ‘Food is Queer’ package about the various ways queerness comes through in my classes (you can read it here!). It makes me SO HAPPY THAT SO MANY QUEER PEOPLE COME TO CLASS!!!!!
Many of my family members have attended class, which has been a great way to be in touch. My mom has been at nearly every single class and always sends me the most amazing illustrated notes after class. Here’s a sample of a few:
Most thrillingly, I have gotten to meet so many wonderful people through teaching!!! I cherish seeing familiar faces pop up on my Zoom screen every week. It means so much to me to connect over our love of cooking at home + our understanding that it matters. I hope to see you in a class soon. My schedule of upcoming classes can be found right here, as can all of my gifting options! All of this is below, too.
For paid subscribers with commenting privileges, feel free to let me know in the comments if there’s anything in particular you’d love to see me teach in 2023!
UPCOMING CLASSES [ALL ON SUNDAYS at 2p EST]:
December 18: A Vegan Hanukkah Dinner »»»» all info / sign-up right here!
January 8: Three One Pan/Pot Meals »»»» all info / sign-up right here!
January 15: For the Week Ahead »»»» all info / sign-up right here!
January 22: Fajita Party! »»»» all info / sign-up right here!
Feb 5: Hearty Vegetarian Dinner »»»» all info / sign-up right here!
Feb 19: For the Week Ahead »»»» all info / sign-up right here!
Cooking class gift certificates are great gifts anytime of year, but make for especially wonderful last minute gifts because no shipping! no expiration date! gift an experience!
I offer gift certificates for a single class ($40), a pack of two ($80), a pack of five ($185), or a pack of ten ($350). No expiration date! Note that gift certificates go directly to the recipient immediately upon purchase (you fill in their contact info at checkout).
You can also purchase gift cards for whatever amount you’d like right here and these can be sent to you so that you can share with the recipient whenever you’d like. These come in the form of a custom checkout code which I suggest just writing down in a card — done and done!
All info about my classes including FAQs is right here.
Thanks for being here everyone! Take good care. xo, Julia
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