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Las Vegas chefs use Facebook, Instagram to connect to fans

Updated April 10, 2020 - 1:19 pm

Chef Ronnie Rainwater improvises with a coffee scoop to form Delmonico Steakhouse Loaded Potato Croquettes in his home kitchen, later pointing out to the Facebook Live audience that the Jordan Slides he’s wearing as he cooks are “technically not chef shoes.”

A rainy day forces Border Grill’s Mike Minor to roast peppers indoors, over a gas burner, as his wife films him making fajitas in their kitchen.

As chefs who have either closed their kitchens or transitioned them to a takeout-only model take to social media to connect with their fans, they’re frequently forced to improvise.

“I hardly ever did anything from the home kitchen,” Charlie Palmer admitted, as he was preparing to launch a weekly Instagram Live series called Pigs and Pinot on Thursday. “It’s a lot different than being in an environment where basically anything you want is at your fingertips.”

For food TV fans accustomed to seeing chefs working in luxurious studios with virtually unlimited supplies, there’s something kind of charming about watching them improvise in their homes or in an understocked restaurant.

But that’s just one reason to visit your favorite chef’s social media feed to watch him or her cook. Whether you’re looking for tips, recipes, the chance to follow along at home, or just something totally adorable, there’s probably a Las Vegas chef making home videos that will help keep you from going stir-crazy in your own kitchen.

While many local chefs are cooking online these days, here are five of our favorites:

The Great Chef Vicente, aka Chef Vincent Pouessel (@the_great_chef_Vicente at Instagram, facebook.com/vincent.pouessel.9)

The lowdown: Mon Ami Gabi’s Vincent Pouessel walks you step-by-step through the creation of everything from a loaf of bread to a lasagna to a chocolate tarte in this series of videos. Shot by his daughters in his home kitchen, he dispels all notions of fine French chefs being stuffy and staid.

Why you should watch: In addition to learning how to cook something delicious, you sometimes get to see Pouessel’s dance moves.

Don’t miss: The sushi episode is fantastic. Seeing a chef who once ran the kitchen of Aureole in Mandalay Bay roll canned tuna and day-old rice, using aluminum foil in place of a bamboo mat, is must-see IGTV.

Pigs and Pinot With Charlie Palmer (@chefcharliepalmer on Instagram)

The lowdown: After 15 years, COVID-19 forced Aureole’s Charlie Palmer to postpone his annual Pigs & Pinot festival in Napa this year. So he’s taking it virtual in a weekly live Instagram TV broadcast every Thursday at 1 p.m. Pacific.

Why you should watch: Every week, Palmer will share the screen with a different sommelier to discuss a select pinot noir while he cooks a pork dish to accompany it. Ideally, you’ll be able to order some wine to accompany the meal you’re learning to make.

Don’t miss: In the debut episode, which premiered April 9, we get the lowdown on Palmer’s efforts to start a vineyard, which weren’t very well received at first.

Adventures of Brix!, starring Brix Howard (facebook.com/brianhoward1204)

The lowdown: Sparrow + Wolf’s chef/owner Brian Howard mans the camera as his 4-year-old son Brix walks us through the creation of dishes such as lamb chops, cinnamon rolls and Detroit-style pizza.

Why you should watch: Whether he’s cooking in his chef coat, or what appear to be his pajamas, Chef Brix is probably the most adorable local chef cooking today.

Don’t miss: Brix’s impression of Captain Hook, inspired by the shape of the mixer, in part one of the pizza episode.

Cooking With Nina, starring Forte Tapas’ Nina Manchev (@fortetapas on Instagram Live, facebook.com/forte.tapas)

The lowdown: When Nina Manchev launched this Sunday afternoon series, which allows home cooks to pre-purchase the ingredients needed to cook along at home, she sold a grand total of eight kits for the first installment. Her fourth, set for April 12, has sold over 100, and her partners, SecretBurger.com, are lining up additional hosts for their own lessons (such as DW Bistro’s Bryce Krausman, who will make scones this weekend).

Why you should watch: The ability to order the ingredients in advance, pick them up curbside and cook along at home, makes this the easiest interactive experience we’ve found.

Don’t miss: The April 5 installment is the go-to episode because it not only marks the switch to a more professional broadcast, but also features one of Forte’s most beloved dishes: the cheese and egg-filled Georgian bread boat, adjarski khachapurri.

Cooking Lessons With Chef Vic Vegas (www.facebook.com/StJudesRanch)

The lowdown: After appearing in more than 50 episodes of various food TV shows, including a season on “Food Network Star,” Sinful Subs chef/owner Vic Vegas (Vic Moea) is taking it old-school with these DIY videos for St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. He’ll host a cooking lesson every Saturday during the shutdown, transitioning to a monthly series afterward, with plans to compile all the recipes in a St. Jude’s Ranch for Children Cookbook.

Why you should watch: Starting with this Saturday’s episode (Easter baked ziti), Las Vegas viewers who donate at least $10 to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children will be entered to win the dish Vic makes on the air, which will be delivered by him and the St. Jude’s Ranch CEO to the winner’s home.

Don’t miss: While the debut episode (April 4) may not have been planned as well as future installments, watching Vic create an Italian frittata with ingredients he had lying around (including Funyons and microwavable mac and cheese cups) is priceless.

Contact Al Mancini at amancini@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5250. Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter.

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