News: Cooking on Google+ with the Social Skillet: Interview with Eric McKee

Cooking on Google+ with the Social Skillet: Interview with Eric McKee

On Google+, one of the very first creative projects using the popular hangout feature revolved around cooking. Foodies +Lee Allison and +Eric McKee decided to start their own "G+ Cooking School", which has now expanded into the Social Skillet. Although neither have formal training, they're both quite accomplished cooks and skilled instructors. Using hangouts, they've taught their students how to create dishes like margherita pizzas and chicken marsala. 

+Eric McKee was very gracious and answered my questions about their thoughts on Google+ and cooking with hangouts.

Q: How did you get into Google+? Do you have day jobs?

A: Lee and I both got into Google+ the same day. We had both been looking to get into it once we heard what it was. Yes we both have day jobs, Lee is a project manager in New York and I do sales out here in Portland, Oregon.

Q: What's your favorite feature of Google+ so far? What do you think is missing?

A: I'd have to go with the Hangouts. I have been using that feature a lot. Not just with the cooking shows but with random invitations that I have received and open hangouts that I start. I know the Google+ team has stated that they are working on business accounts but right now that is something that I consider a big deal to be missing. I'm sure we're not the only idea that has come from Google+ that has taken off like ours but is limited to  being stuck with a personal account.

Q: How did you guys come up with the Google+ Cooking School idea?

A: It was literally seconds after Lee and I were in our first hangout that he asked me what I thought about teaching people to cook on here and I was all over that idea.

Q: What are some of the challenges of the Google+ Cooking School? 

A: One of the biggest challenges of the G+ Cooking School is the limited size and control in the hangouts. We have no control if someone decides to sign up and join and be disruptive. We can mute them but they can "unmute" themselves and no way to kick them from our hangout.  

Q: What's the best thing about the Google+ Cooking School?

A: By far the best thing about our cooking school is the ability to have us stop what we are doing and show you again and sometimes one more time how to do something until you get it. You can watch TV all day long and pause and rewind and watch the same thing over and over and still not get it but we can change angles and wording to make sure that you see exactly what it is you are trying to see.

Q: Does the interaction via hangouts change the dynamic of a more "regular" cooking lesson?

A: The interaction via hangouts most definitely changes the dynamic. I would compare it to having Rachel Ray in your kitchen cooking for you with you having the ability to ask her questions as she cooks. She's not classically trained either, but millions of housewives and plenty of guys who would never admit it use her show and recipes to feed their families. We're doing the same thing but you get to stop us and ask us how, what, where, & why we are doing something. 

Q: Do you guys have any background in food?  

A: Yes and no. While we both have no formal training, we have been cooking for decades. I literally started cooking when I was 2 years old, so that gives me almost 30 years of experience. I made a salmon mousse when I was 7 years old and would be more than happy to give you my mom's number to verify that as long as you have a few hours to spare to listen to her brag about me.

Q: Who are some of your favorite foodies on Google+?

A: +Chef Doug Johnson for his awesome stream of food porn, +Jake Croston for his great blog and how to videos, and +Adam Hudak for his great Craft Beer Hangouts.

Q: What are your plans for the future of the Google+ cooking school?

A: Right now we're testing things out and adjusting as needed. We are currently changing from 3 shows a week on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule to 4 shows a week bi-weekly at an early and late time to accommodate more West Coasters.

Want to sign up for the next cooking hangout? Go to the Social Skillet website to check out what's in the works. To get a taste of what you're in for, watch their lesson on how to make margherita pizza. There's even a guest appearance by Google+ rock star +Daria Musk.

Photo by +Eric McKee

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