- Title: China's stuck-at-home millions discover the joys of cooking
- Date: 13th March 2020
- Summary: SHANGHAI, CHINA (MARCH 12, 2020) (REUTERS) LAPTOP SCREEN SHOWING PREVIOUSLY RECORDED VIDEO OF ZHANG DOING ONLINE COOKING COURSE
- Embargoed: 27th March 2020 08:03
- Keywords: China cooking class coronavirus online
- Location: SHANGHAI, CHINA
- City: SHANGHAI, CHINA
- Country: China
- Topics: Health/Medicine,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA009C4VVKG7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Dressed in an apron, Chef Zhang Xuesi flips a sizzling batch of Cantonese-style garlic prawns with his spatula.
Hundreds of viewers watch via livestream as the prawns turn brown in Zhang's pan, awaiting the next step in his online cooking program.
Thanks to the conoravirus, millions of Chinese residents are discovering a newfound interest in cooking after government efforts to curb the outbreak has forced many to stay at home.
"It wasn't until the epidemic broke out that I started cooking at home. I think it's because firstly, all restaurants are closed and it isn't that convenient. Delivery services can only be picked up at the entrance of your compound. So when you pick it up you have to wear a face mask, and it's isn't very convenient. Cooking at home is healthier and hygienic and you can really enjoy it," said 28-year-old Shanghai resident, Zheng Yan, who often watches Chef Zhang's cooking programs.
Downloads of the top five recipe apps on China's app stores, such as Xiachufang, more than doubled in February to 2.25 million, from 1 million in February, according to research firm Sensor Tower. Chinese video streaming firm Billibilli said cooking and food-related content were viewed over 580 million times on its platform in the month since the outbreak.
Besides the increasing number of viewers, Chef Zhang Xuesi found his viewers are thirsty for not only cooking skills but also emotional connections.
"For us people who do livestreaming, we should be happy if we have more online viewers. But actually, I think it's probably due to the epidemic that has made our livestream into a window for others to be cathartic. You can't even imagine some of the topics we have been discussing during the livestream," said Zhang, who has been teaching full-time online cooking courses for over two years.
Online video cooking producer DayDayCook, for whom Zhang works for, told Reuters the number of new users in February tripled that of January and that during the epidemic the most popular dish on its platform was a dish of stewed bean curd with shrimps.
"The fact that we're cooking at home now is a long-term positive for us. I don't believe the new penetration rate will decrease all of a sudden. I think it's a long-term market for us," said DayDayCook founder Norma Chu.
While the virus is spreading quickly globally, its progress in China has slowed markedly in the past week, a result of strict measures imposed to control the movement of people and traffic, including the virtual lockdown of Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.
(Production: Xihao Jiang)
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