Chef Frank Fawkner and his son Hugo host online classes for housebound cooks

Little Hugo Fawkner is the breakout star of his father Frank's online COVID Cooking Classes. The chatty two-year-old loves helping out in the kitchen.

"Hugo really loves cooking - out of nowhere he'll just ask 'What are we cooking today Dad?'," Fawkner says.

"The bakery is closed at the moment for renovations, which has been held up because of the pandemic. Both businesses are side-by-side and sharing some of the space which includes the kitchen."

Fawkner made the call early to close Fawk Foods Kitchen & Bakery and EXP. restaurant at Pokolbin during the coronavirus pandemic and hit the ground running with his free online cooking classes.

"We decided to start with a sourdough 'mother' and just show people how easy it is to make one," he said.

"I was very surprised with the feedback and how many people were giving it a go. They're all realising how easy it is and how many other things you can use it for, rather than just your standard sourdough loaf. Not a surprise, though, is how much people love Hugo. He definitely makes the cooking classes."

Fawkner enjoys interacting with viewers online and answering their many questions, and says people are "discovering new ways to make things and giving me ideas".

"We will be able to do lots of baking variations and experiment, starting with Pandemic Pancakes and Crumpets using our sourdough mother," he explained.

"Soon we will make a sourdough loaf, baguettes and a gluten-free sourdough. We have also made scrambled eggs, banana bread and mushroom risotto. We will make a traditional baguette in a loaf tin sourdough, carbonara, fresh pasta, hot cross buns, cakes, satay sauce, potato purée, brioche and doughnuts, and show people how to break down a chicken."

An important part of Fawkner's classes is promoting Hunter Region producers. He and Hugo have been using fruit and vegetables from Newcastle Greens as well as chicken, honey and eggs from Little Hill Farm.

"Soon we will be working with Hunter Heartland wagyu on some beef dishes, Hungerford Meat Co, Mother Fungus mushrooms and then down the track we will match our dinner dishes to some local wines."

Fawkner's videos and recipes are being posted on Facebook and Instagram.

- This story first appeared on the Newcastle Herald