Orange County teacher mixing up cooking video lessons during distance learning

A Wekiva High School culinary arts teacher is going above and beyond to keep students engaged while they’re learning from home.

Christopher Bates, lead instructor and program director for the Wekiva High School Academy of Culinary Arts, is creating videos of himself cooking meals and infusing them with education. He then uploads the videos to YouTube for his students to watch.

“I wanted to continue education but refused to make it hard on them,” Chef Bates said.

Bates said his students already had too much on their plates with distance learning and stress from the coronavirus pandemic. When Chef Bates first started teaching from home during the pandemic he said he tried uploading reading assignments to Orange County Public School’s online learning platform.

But he quickly realized that was not what his students needed.

“None of my students were logging on,” he said. “What the students were missing was engagement. What they were missing was the hands-on nature of what we do.”

Bates said a student called him on the phone and said they missed being in the kitchen with him.Bates said that phone call sparked the idea of creating Learning at Home with Chef Bates YouTube videos.

“I was like alright, you know what, if you can’t be in my kitchen I’m going to bring my kitchen to you.”

Bates said he immediately started researching how to make cooking videos, the school bought him a camera and a student donated another camera for his project.

“It took probably a week and a half of non-stop me playing with cameras and angles and trying to figure out how to do it,” Bates recalled. “It’s almost like putting together a cooking show but with a whole lot of education by yourself and that’s a challenge.”

Chef Bates said it takes two days for him to make one video. He said he spends most of his time editing the videos together on a 14 year-old laptop. He has created videos of himself cooking porchetta, grilled chicken drumsticks and cinnamon rolls while also infusing the videos with food science education and mini quizzes.

Senior Kate Campopiano said the videos keep her engaged.

“He [Chef Bates] was still making the same silly jokes that he would in class.”

She said the videos also ensure she is learning.Campopiano also said she is proud of her teacher for going above and beyond to continue making learning fun for students.

“He is very much the type of person who would go out of his way to do… anything he can to make sure we’re still learning.”

Chef Bates said he does not see what he is doing as work. “I love food and I love teaching people about food. It’s not work.”

Bates said he plans to keep making videos throughout the summer.Check out Chef Bates’ videos by visiting the Wekiva Culinary YouTube page.