Ask ten chefs about the effectiveness of culinary school versus apprenticeships, and you’re likely to receive 30 different answers. Most can’t agree with themselves, let alone each other, about the usefulness of extended culinary training programs that chew up bank accounts as fast as any high-end college, while spitting out hundreds of young cooks with little to no real kitchen experience. The only two universal truths to emerge from the long-held debate seem to be that culinary skills will always have a value, regardless of where they're honed, and that a blinding devotion to the work will probably lead to success. Or at the very least, a lifetime of being employed.
While brand new online cooking school startup Salted can’t do much about the latter, it’s the former — some prowess in the kitchen — that the subscription service has a bead on.
Launching today with some 200 videos, SaltedTV.com is looking to dance in the wiggle room between a culinary school education and a debt-free existence, offering access to hundreds of high definition tutorials from noted chefs in exchange for a $9.99 monthly fee. Right now, members can log on to learn the basics from notables including Roy Choi, Jason Travi, Eric Greenspan, Daniel Holzman, Jonathan Benno and more, each of whom showcases a particular dish, technique or necessary skill from their arsenal.
Videos can be screened individually and broken down into repeatable sections, or taken as courses that deep-dive into entire cuisine types. if you’re just looking for quick tips on how to make a great guacamole before guests show up, the site’s searchable recipe database still has you covered.
Salted is certainly a novel idea, especially as the tech world continues to invade the kitchen. Half-realized recipes proliferate the online space, and there’s a surprising dearth of quality tutorials for even basic techniques — making sweet treats for the kids excepted, of course. Even well thought out cookbooks lack the visceral quality that comes with watching someone make a dish, rather than having it explained on a page.
By giving members video access to the culinary characters they likely already care about, in their kitchens and on their terms, Salted is further linking today’s chef-first food landscape with the ability to glean some real-world information. And that seems well worth the comparatively low cost of admission.
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Still, Salted can’t replicate the restaurant kitchen experience any better than culinary school can. The site doesn’t force you to stand on your feet for sixteen hours a day, or make minimum wage while earning a battle scar from a faulty old broiler. One of the most appealing aspects of Salted as a product for the everyday consumer might also be one of its biggest hurdles — you can turn the tutorials off whenever you want. In a real kitchen, the only off button is the exit door.
Thankfully, Salted isn’t interested in trading real-world experience for membership plans — at least not yet. The truth is, most people who subscribe likely have little ambition to move into the restaurant world; they just want to be able to make a damn good risotto. And Salted is more than happy to help with that. Better still, they’ve got the perfect chef to show you how.