New Brunswick man creates cooking challenge during coronavirus pandemic

Click to play video 'N.B. COVID-19 creations cooking challenge' N.B. COVID-19 creations cooking challenge
WATCH: Creator of Moncton Facebook group "Hub City Foodies" is has come up with the COVID-19 creations home cooking challenge. Shelley Steeves reports.

People who love to cook and are looking for something to get their mind off of the coronavirus can now take part in an online home cooking challenge created by a New Brunswick man.

“It is obvious that people are experimenting more with cooking now than ever. We are going deeper and deeper into that pantry to try to find something to eat,” said Jason Gallant of Moncton.

Gallant is the creator of a Facebook group called Hub City Foodies.

He said he started the site just over two years ago to promote local chefs, restaurants and brewers.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia brothers get homeschooled in home economics during coronavirus pandemic

But with so many people now stuck at home amid the pandemic, Gallant teamed up with Moncton chef Matt Pennel to create a COVID-19 cooking challenge called Refrigerator Shakedown.

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Each week, over social media, people across the country are called on to dig into their pantries to create gourmet-style dishes from the most basic ingredients, said Pennell.

He calls the dishes people submit to the site COVID Creations.

“You really have to cook with what you have and that is why we really started these challenges is to get people to stay home and use what they have,” he said.

Click to play video 'Vegetable garden popularity growing in crisis' Vegetable garden popularity growing in crisis
Vegetable garden popularity growing in crisis

The goal, he said, is to get more families to test their culinary skills while staying at home cooking in their own kitchens.

Shawn Aube of Moncton said he has participated in the weekly challenges and they have become a family affair.

“We have gone from individual participation to family and we have broken up into teams and it has become quite the competition in our house,” he said.

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Pennell said the contests are bringing people together at a time when few can connect in person.

“It keeps everybody in communication with each other and engaged with each other and I think that is super important right now,” he said.

READ MORE: N.B. nurse, 85, comes out of retirement to help care for seniors amid pandemic

The dishes posted to the site look like they were plated by master chefs, Pennel said.

“The dishes that people have been creating, they are amazing, they are so inspiring,” he told Global News.

The culinary creations are born in the minds of people looking for a comforting outlet to get their minds off COVID-19, according to Gallant.

“We want people to stay in their homes and be with their families and just create something delicious,” said Gallant.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.