HUNTINGTON — The role of Huntington’s Kitchen, even amid a pandemic, is the same as always, as in to be a “community food center, where people come to learn, cook and experience everything that well-prepared food and healthy living have to offer.”

Normally, that means cooking classes of no more than 16 students at a time. But with the onslaught of the coronavirus, those in-house classes have been shut down for the foreseeable future.

Thankfully, we live in a time of high technology and innovation, and Huntington’s Kitchen is taking advantage of the modern ability to reach people.

As of Tuesday, Huntington’s Kitchen is livestreaming cooking classes at 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays — March 17, 19, 24, 26 and 31. These free online classes will happen live on the Huntington’s Kitchen Facebook page: facebook.com/CHHHuntingtonsKitchen/.

The goal of these live instructional cooking shows is to help self-quarantined and homebound residents of the Tri-State learn how to cook good and healthful meals using the food that many may currently have in their pantries and refrigerators.

The virtual classes are hosted by chef and Huntington’s Kitchen Manager Marty Emerson, who will post the recipe of the day on the venue’s Facebook page before the live broadcast so all viewers can be on the same page.

This new livestream will be viewed not only by Tri-State residents, but also potentially by folks all over the country and the world as the coronavirus response continues.

Emerson, a native of the area, has been running Huntington’s Kitchen for about 3 1/2 years. But nothing could have prepared many of us for the coronavirus’s rapid spread around the globe, prompting governments to take action.

Still, people need to eat, and hopefully will do so as healthfully as possible. So, Emerson decided to act.

“It’s a crazy world that we’re living in right now,” Emerson said. “The best thing to do is to take it one day at a time and see what happens. I am used to doing hands-on classes with people. But when the word came down that we would not be able to do classes anymore, there was a panic for a minute as to what I was going to do for a job.

“By the next day, after I had time to think about it, I thought, ‘Oh, I could make instructional cooking videos or try and keep in touch with everybody through technology.’ So, I thought about showing people how to use different canned vegetables and frozen foods and the things that people are stocking up on now. That is why we are going to livestream every Tuesday and Thursday for a while. On our first show on (March) 17th, we had a couple hundred total viewers, so that is sure to increase.”

For those who bought every canned good they could get off the store shelves, new ideas on how to cook those food items while keeping palates satisfied is where Emerson’s show comes in.

“As we go along, I will be asking people about what products they are buying from the stores, about food items they purchased, where they may not have any idea of what to do with it,” Emerson said. “In other words, you may have eaten canned green beans a hundred times now, so here is a different take on how to prepare them. We will try and show them some different, not everyday recipes so as to increase the flavor.

“For instance, I want to show people how to make grits using creamed corn instead of milk in case you have problems finding milk. You can use creamed corn, water and grits and have some nice and creamy grits to eat.

“Everyone seems to be talking about the virus and everything shutting down, so if I can be a half-hour distraction from all of that, that will be a good thing,” Emerson said. “We will post the recipe of what we are making that day at noon. It will also be a good chance for kids and students who are at home to have a home education and cooking lesson as well, teaching them how to measure out ingredients, learn the math side of cooking, and how to cook the food. We want to give people of all ages something positive to do during the day.”

Huntington’s Kitchen, now 10 years old, is jointly run by Cabell Huntington Hospital and Marshall University’s Department of Dietetics. The goal of the venue is to “prevent and reduce diet-related disease through education about healthy food and healthy cooking and to share information with everyone, regardless of cooking experience.”

Find more information, visit www.huntingtons-kitchen.org or call 304-522-0887.

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