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WNY chef uses COVID downtime to create popular free online cooking demos and side business

Chef Stephen Forman hosts free Facebook live cooking demos every Thursday night at 7 p.m. and is also now doing in-person cooking classes.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Who says nothing good came out of COVID-19 quarantine?

A Western New York chef used his time during the shutdown to start weekly, free Facebook Live cooking demonstrations. They became so popular that he decided to turn it into a side business.

Earlier this year, chef Stephen Forman was laid off from his job as an executive chef with Delaware North. He was used to creating dishes for thousands of people at KeyBank Center, but with everything shut down, he suddenly had a lot of time on his hands.

Forman wanted to share his love for cooking with others, especially those who also found themselves stuck at home with nothing to do.

Credit: Stephen Forman

He started doing cooking demos every Thursday night at 7 p.m. on his Facebook page. He worked in his own kitchen, and his wife held the camera while he narrated how to properly chop vegetables and add extra flavor to dishes using different herbs.

His videos got hundreds and sometimes thousands of views, so he thought, why not see if he could turn it into a side business.

Forman is now doing in-person cooking classes at the Artisan Culinary Lofts on Amherst Street in Buffalo.

You buy a ticket online to reserve your spot. The night of the event, you get a cooking lesson and you get to eat the food you make.

The event is socially distant and follows COVID rules and regulations — the event size is limited, masks must be worn and attendees will be in their own workspaces.

"I think people just want to get out because they've been cooped up in the house. There are limited things to do. Opening up the Artisan Lofts is just like a restaurant," Forman said. "We have to practice the COVID measures, but people are able to get out, enjoy a great meal that they are going to create, be around other people, and socialize at a COVID-safe distance." 

The next in-person event is coming up on Tuesday, October 20. 

And some more good news — Forman was called back to his job with Delaware North, but he still plans to hold the free online cooking demos on Facebook.

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