Star chef Josh Emett has changed up his cult "How to ... " web series to provide lockdown inspiration for the kitchen.

Emett, wife Helen and their two sons are hunkered down in Kohimarama.

The Michelin-star-winning chef originally launched Instagram series "How to ..." last year with Helen, Finn, 10, and Louis, 9. The family got involved in filming and cameo roles as Emett provided free tutorials.

Now, the former MasterChef judge is savouring the role more than ever, playing his part in keeping up the nation's spirits.

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"I'm using the lockdown to master some dishes I want to work on. I have been trying out different pizza dough recipes and the boys are loving being the regular pizza testers. My boys are constantly hungry so having a quick morning tea ready has given me the motivation to try different recipes."

"Where possible I am using limited ingredients and ones that many of us already have sitting in the pantry."

Emett says getting the whole family involved in planning and making meals is a good way of learning - and relieving the monotony.

He says he is not looking for the next MasterChef - rather he wants people to connect in the kitchen. If grandparents don't have Instagram, he suggests writing down the recipe and shopping for them.

"Last week I did a basic on "How to ...'" chop an onion, and make risotto and carbonara," he tells Spy.

"On Tuesday, I will be doing a basic cooking skills demo and showing people how to make a white sauce also known as a bechamel and how to make gnocchi."

Much of the focus will be on quick family-friendly, cost-effective meals or suggestions for things that do more than one meal.

He is also planning some surprises along the way.

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"I'm going to have some guests on for the Kitchen Counter Chronicles, where I'll get to chat with other foodies and answer their cooking questions - and maybe tell some secrets from the kitchens I have worked in."


Emett loves seeing the re-posts and finished dishes of his tutorials.

"I particularly like hearing that people who aren't confident in the kitchen have given some recipes a go. I can never predict what will make the most impact. Last year it was the chicken pot pie, the gnocchi, the mash and carbonara."

This week, Emett will also show you how to create the perfect lemon meringue pie and has plans for a pear tarte tatin demo.

Like many dads, he has been keeping his family entertained outside of the kitchen.

"I have been making sure they pull their weight. Every day they have to make their own beds, unpack the dishwasher and help hang out the laundry and put out the rubbish.

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"I have been busily tidying up the garden. Getting the boys to help with some of these practical tasks is also good for their learning."

The boys are being home-schooled in a remote classroom - and are also finding time for plenty of basketball.

"Keeping them focused can be hard so Helen and I are grateful for having a basketball hoop in the driveway to help them get some outside break-time. We are also going on cycle rides and taking our dog for walks and the dog couldn't be happier."

Emett says the pandemic has shaken many industries - and hospitality is no different.

"When restaurants open it will take a while to be back to normal. It's likely we will continue to have distancing between tables and increased sanitisation practices and I think we will need to be more creative with our take-out options and perhaps have cost-effective menu offerings like a two-course fixed price menu that will allow people to eat out with a more restricted budget.

The Emett family, Helen and Josh with children Louis and Finn.
The Emett family, Helen and Josh with children Louis and Finn.

"I know people are going to be craving to get out of the confines of their home so I do believe restaurants will bounce back once it is safe to be out in public places."

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Other chefs are also turning to social media through the lockdown.

Former MasterChef co-judge Simon Gault is doing simple but amazing daily dishes through his Facebook page.

Emett, who owns some of the best hospo real estate in the country, says the Instagram page of Craggy Range's chef Casey McDonald is inspiring, as is Vaughan Mabee from Amisfield in Queenstown.

Bon Appetit!


Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website