WINDSOR, ONT. -- The chance to learn from a master pizza instructor is a new offering in Windsor as the hospitality sector looks to go virtual to stay afloat during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, WindsorEats announced its ‘Be A Pizza Maker’ program that will offer online classes with a local pizza master.

“This is something that’s brand new for us but, one that we’re really excited about as we’re seeing an appetite kind of grow from people that are looking for experiences,” said Adriano Ciotoli, co-founder of the hospitality group.

Ciotoli says those in the hospitality sector must shift to online experiences to bring in revenue as in-person activities remain a question mark in the new year.

The new pizza-making tutorial will see Oven 360 founding partner and master instructor from the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, Remo Tortola, lead people through the ins and outs of dough, time, and temperature.

“I think it’s exciting,” said Tortola. “You will be shocked when you eat this pizza at your house.”

Ciotoli says the first class on January 16th has nearly sold out with some registrants coming from as far away as Ottawa.

Locals are also interested in the experience.

Jennifer Brignall-Strong has turned to video chats to keep in touch with friends and thinks online classes like the pizza tutorial could be another option as public health restrictions persist.

“We kind of talk about like, ‘How can we get together? Are we going to have wine over Zoom?’ Things like that,” said Brignall-Strong. “After I do this [pizza class], if this is something that’s really fun then, it’s definitely something I would probably try to coordinate where we have a girls’ night online.”

Brignall-Strong does not think online experiences will replace outings to wineries and festivals once the spread of the novel coronavirus is controlled but, feels they may be with us to stay.

“I think it’ll be a hybrid, right? People are obviously very eager, you know I can’t wait for Beer Fest again, and all these different festivals but, I think it will be a hybrid of, ‘Sometimes people stay home and do these experiences and sometimes they go out,’” said Brignall-Strong.

Ciotoli says the hard-hit hospitality sector needs to get creative, and where possible, online experiences may be an important source of revenue in 2021.

“We’ve seen museums offering digital tours, we’ve seen walking tours go to a digital format,” said Ciotoli. “By being creative, there’s ways to be able adapt this format.”

The online pizza classes offered in Windsor will include a pizza kit sent to the home of the registrant along with a dough scraper, enamel pizza pin, and a Windsor Pizza Club card. Ingredients will also be included and can make up to six pizzas according to WindsorEats.​