Prior to the second quarter of 2020, bespoke experiences were all the rage—private, customizable itineraries that proved inimitable. For the majority of 2020, however, bespoke took a backseat, forcing travelers—and quite frankly all of us—to come back to our roots, grounding us in the mundane. But as we adjusted to living, not merely surviving, in the time of a pandemic, bespoke re-emerged—and in a new light. 

This time, bespoke is different—it’s about bringing that same customizable, personal experience to guests virtually as months in self isolation have quite literally starved us of social interaction and the human element accompanying the majority of bespoke experiences. After all, that animated chef, quirky tour guide, seasoned sommelier, are what made bespoke possible pre-pandemic—and will continue to make it possible. 

That’s what the founders of Delicious Experiences, a platform of on-demand food and beverage workshops, realized relatively quickly as the world locked down. “People were missing and craving food experiences. Not just the watching, and not just the eating, the interactive and fun moments that happen ‘in real life,’” says Inbal Baum, co-founder of Delicious Experiences. “We realized that these personal connections can still happen… we just had to completely reinvent our company to fit 2020.”

Delicious Experiences was born out of Delicious Israel, a culinary tour company leading food tours and cooking workshops throughout Israel for the past decade, founded by Baum and her husband Tal Ater. Once physical tours halted, Baum and Ater transferred the concept to create the first online marketplace-style platform for food and cocktail enthusiasts with internationally renowned chefs, mixologists and sommeliers as their expert providers. 

“The workshops are all private and run based on demand and according to the guests’ schedules. Each provider has created a structure of an experience they would like to teach, but this structure only serves as a general framework for the event itself,” explains Baum and Ater. “We work with the guests or companies to adapt and create a bespoke experience for their needs and interests, then handle everything needed to run the event. From tech and logistics, to scheduling and shipping of the ingredients.”

Delicious Experiences’ workshops run the gamut but a mixology or wine education class are particularly high in demand and Baum’s personal recommendation for anyone who is skeptical to purchase an online experience. She notes, “While our experts are all engaging, our mixologists are true pros at entertaining guests; it’s what they specialize in at their bars and in their careers. As less cooking is involved, it also gives the max opportunity to engage with these incredibly talented hosts.” 

These experts include the likes of Etheliya Hananova, Michelin Star restaurant owner and sommelier leading The Joy of Wine Tasting and Pairing; Kat Dean, certified spirits specialist and sommelier leading The Art & Science of Cocktails; Joseph Haywood, one of Asia’s top bartenders leading It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere: Home Bar Essentials; Vance Henderson, U.S. national brand ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin leading The Cocktail Quest: Craft Cocktail Game; and Simone Dyson, a certified Scotch Whisky society ambassador leading Whisky Appreciation for All Levels. 

While a decade in the industry certainly granted Baum and Ater access to a handful of experts, many of the providers were hooked with a cold call from Baum while Ater built the platform. The husband-wife duo explain that they started by reaching out to experts who inspired them and who they wanted to learn from. Once they received a positive response, the power of the Delicious Experiences concept revealed itself. “These experts could continue to develop their love and passion from teaching in this new special way and people across the globe could connect with experts, who they would never have otherwise had this sort of inside access to,” says Baum and Ater. 

“I love being able to teach a new skill to people at home that makes them feel transported.  Accessibility has always been a driving force behind many of the classes I teach, so giving folks a creative outsource in the comfort of their own home is my forte,” says Kat Dean, leading The Art & Science of Cocktails. 

Simone Dyson, teaching Whisky Appreciation for All Levels adds, “What makes this program unique is that it is customizable to your level and whisky preference. If you like Bourbon, Peaty Scotch, or Sherry Casks I help you shop and select a whisky that will be right for you and guide you through tasting, shopping, and understanding. Not having a completely standard template made me feel like the class was about what I can uniquely offer.”

As intriguing as this all sounds, the unavoidable burning question lingers, what about the physical barrier of the screen? Though it may exist to strip away elements of hospitality we grew accustomed to pre-pandemic, both the founders and experts express that true hospitality cannot be stopped by a screen. “The innovation here is facilitating these fun and interactive moments that help us feel a personal human connection, and that can happen regardless of the medium,” says Ater.

Additionally, the founders identify how the workshops are able to connect guests who may not otherwise experience a similar tasting, tour, or lesson due to lack of resources or, perhaps, age. Baum shares an example of a 94-year-old guest who recently joined a cook-along on Zoom with one of the chefs, saying, “I have realized the breadth of opportunity for connecting people across the globe in ways that they may not have been open to pre-pandemic.”

“We often look at the pandemic as something that has set us back but in many ways it has also thrust us forward to the future,” adds Ater.

At a time when we may all feel a little less hopeful, a virtual workshop may just bridge the challenging hurdles ahead from social connection and experience to supporting an industry set to feel the aftershocks for years to come—all while reinventing the new bespoke. 

Delicious Experience workshops range in price from $125 to $1,250 with many offered as a donation where all proceeds are given to a charitable cause.