Chefs share tidbits for cooking in quarantine

Raylene Lopez
Staff Writer

Both new and experienced chefs – sheltered inside for many weeks – have flocked to the kitchen. Professional chefs and kitchen newbies shared their advice and ideas cooking up delicious dishes, to help pass the time, and bring some simple pleasure during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

“Pastas are always great, any kind of breaded chicken and fish… your comfort foods are always great,” said Leslie Sassaman, owner of Claremont Chefs Academy, which normally holds a variety of cooking classes for kids and adults. 

Sassaman said new chefs should always plan meals ahead.  Allow enough time for meat to defrost, he advised, adding that flexibility and creativity are key: When you don’t have the desired ingredients on hand, improvise. 

Senior communications through the arts major Jane Duran said that she and her siblings are taking advantage of quarantine to work on their cooking skills.

“I really don’t care for cooking,” said Duran, a communications through art major. “My mom is making each one of my siblings pick a day of the week and cook dinner.

“I’ve made a four-cheese pasta and that is pretty good,” she added. 

Duran offered the recipe she used for this dish, though she warned that it called for more ingredients than she expected for a single meal. 

Zion Grant-Freeman, sophomore psychology major, said he has started baking recently as a way to bond with his step sister.

“It’s been fun,” Grant-Freedman said. “I’ve never really baked much before, but I think I’m getting good at it … We tried Oreo Cheesecake Cookies and I wish I made more because they were pretty bomb,” Grant-Freeman said.

He found the recipe online. Next, he said he’d like to do a pumpkin spiced pie.

“My girlfriend likes pie so I’ve always wanted to try one of her favorite pies,” Grant-Freeman said.

While some are cooking for a hobby these days, La Verne-based professional chef Christian Galvan has started a new business, Quarantine Kitchen, for delivering the home-cooked meals that he prepares throughout La Verne, San Dimas, Claremont, Upland and Rancho Cucamonga. 

He said the idea came from his Instagram followers, who wanted to taste the meals he posted on his Instagram account. So he created a menu and within an hour he was already receiving orders.

One problem that cooking in quarantine has presented for Galvan is he can’t find the various types of flour certain dishes call for.  But this is not insurmountable. 

“All purpose flour is called all purpose for a reason,” Galvan said. It’s really good you can bake cookies out of it, make a decent pizza dough out of it, you can do a lot out of it. It’s when you get more advanced… you might want to experience more like cake flour or bread flour,” Galvan said.

One of Galvan’s favorite recipes, also great for beginners, is the Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies.

“As a kid I just remembered making that standard recipe. If you make that it’s really hard to screw that one up,” Galvan said, adding that freezing the cookie dough before baking to make the cookies extra delicious.

Trying a new hobby may come with its struggles.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself… Take it with a grain of salt, and have a little sense of humor with it and you’ll learn a lot about yourself when it comes to cooking and baking,” Galvan said.

Raylene Lopez can be reached at

Raylene Lopez

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