Culinary Clones: What is the new, interactive cookery class from celebrated Scottish chef?

Chefs David Hetherington and Joe Hillier have a new cookery venture, and it's set to be like nothing you've seen before.

Published 24th Aug 2020
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Teaming up under the guise of Culinary Clones, the chefs who normally work together at The Bridge of Orchy Hotel in Argyll, came up with the concept during lockdown.

David, who has been on Masterchef and cooked on TV with Michel Roux Jr, was looking forward to 2020 and continuing work with Joe at the hotel, which hit the headlines last year after his appointment.

But after the global pandemic hit, they, like other chefs, realised that social distancing could mean the end of restaurants and ambitions once held at the start of the year.

Both chefs were, in their words, bursting with culinary creativity in lockdown and keen to keep this momentum going.

They wanted to come up with some way to share cooking experience with others, but without the crowded restaurant element, and so Culinary Clones was born.

David says: "Then, and there, the kernel of an idea for formed - along the lines of 'wouldn’t it be great if we could just create a parallel universe where COVID-19 wasn’t a problem.'

"Joe, an avid gamer, knew a lot about parallel worlds from online. In these digital environments, virtual versions of just about anything was possible.

"(During lockdown) everything from virtual conferences to live music performances, from stars like John Legend, to movie launches, by famous directors like JJ Abrams, were increasingly being produced, and attended by thousands of participants.

"Often these events had sponsorship, and it wasn’t uncommon to see major brands like Audi or Netflix brandished.

"So we thought, 'why can’t we just recreate our menus online?' We want to show people what we have created and teach them how to cook dishes for themselves in the comfort of their own, socially-distant kitchen.

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"Thus Culinary Clones was born. We invite anyone listening or reading this, who are food lovers or cooking fans, to join our Culinary Clones Brigade, and see how we pull this off.

"There will be laughter, tears, and undoubted successes and disappointment, but we invite you all to share the ride with us. Watch this space."

What to expect?

While the concept is still in the development stage, David has confirmed that Culinary Clones will be fully interactive and a huge leap from a Zoom or YouTube cookery class.

He adds: "Culinary Clones was born out of necessity, and the belief that the astonishing recent advances in social media, artificial intelligence, digital humans, 3D virtual worlds, and digital interventions to influence offline human behavioural change, could lead to a new beginning for our relationship with food, nutrition, and cooking.

"The world of physical cooking and the world of digital cooking are about to converge in a big way.

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"Culinary Clones want to be at the vanguard of this revolution but at the end of then day, they are chefs, and chefs just want to celebrate the actual experience of cooking and the purely physical pleasure of eating good food prepared well."

To keep up to date with the project, visit the Culinary Clones website.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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