Savannah friends become quarantine cooking hit

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Two friends from Savannah found calm during a chaotic time, inspired by famous chef Julia Child.

John Villarreal and Catie Duncan decided to spend the duration of the shelter-at-home order together in the kitchen, cooking Child-inspired recipes, while adding their own personal flair.

They originally shared their recipes and videos on their own Instagram accounts but when they made a separate account dedicated to their experiences, the project became more popular.

All of their ingredients are locally sourced through the Forsyth Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning. They said it was extremely important for them to support local farmers during the pandemic.

From watching to cooking

It all started after binge-watching Child’s old cooking videos on Amazon Prime.

“We watched so much of her TV show that her mannerisms were coming through us,” said Duncan.

She said they enjoyed her so much that they decided to turn to her videos for cooking inspiration. They began to film themselves following recipes and mimicking Child’s voice, posting the videos to Instagram.

“I’d get a phone call from a friend saying, ‘Oh my God, you made that tonight! What’s your recipe? I want to try making that tonight,'” said Villarreal.

He said the videos became a way for them to connect and share their food with friends as if they were all out to dinner together.

United through food

Food and cooking for others has been a huge part of both of their upbringings.

Villarreal grew up in Texas and was always in the kitchen with his mother as she cooked.

“As a Hispanic and being very cultural, Hispanic cultures are very big on food,” said Villarreal. “There’s nothing more beautiful than cooking for other people and for that nourishment to be their enjoyment.”

He also said his experience living in Rome for a few months during college helped teach him how to make traditional Italian dishes as well.

Duncan spent the first 16 years of her life overseas as her father trained racehorses in the Middle East.

“For my mom, it was very important to her to have at least one meal together cause we were so busy,” said Duncan.

Her childhood in the Middle East exposed her to different flavors and her travels to Asia showed her new dishes.

Both of them said it’s important for them to not only try some of Child’s recipes but to combine them with recipes and flavors they’ve experienced on their own.

‘It’s been like therapy for us’

The two friends say their newfound love for cooking helped them get through the shelter-at-home order.

“I feel like cooking is therapy,” said Duncan. “It’s a therapeutic thing to like be like okay, turn off the TV, we’ve shut off all of our work, we don’t have homework, we don’t have anything. Let’s just get in this kitchen and cook.”

They said they have grown to love sharing their virtual dinner table as a way to stay connected to others.

“Food has always brought people together and why should it not bring people together during a time of isolation than now,” said Villarreal. “We have digital aspects, so why can’t we do that?”

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