Keys to the Kitchen
February 6, 2011 § 2 Comments
One of the wonderful things about having run kitchens professionally is that I’ve learned a great deal about cooking, dealing with people and about growing (not only as a cook but as an individual). You learn a lot about yourself in a 110 degree kitchen swearing because it’s depressingly hot and so rushed during a service that you don’t even have time to take a breath. I’m glad to have experienced what I have though and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. So I want to start sharing some of the things I’ve taken away from that career in hopes that it may benefit your own culinary quests.
Cooking aside every profession has ins-and-outs that you must learn in order to, at the very least, get the job done. But if you want to get the job done well and exceed expectations you must go beyond the minimum effort needed and really apply yourself to your job. It takes a lot of dedication to excel at anything but in my opinion there aren’t many things (other than family) that are quite as important in excelling at as your job. It’s how promotions are had and raises are gotten. And after all, who doesn’t want those things?
Cooking, more specifically, is not an exact science. Yes, there are many scientific aspects of cooking that are applied on a daily basis but it takes more than that to become a great cook. It takes instincts.
The first Key (in no specific order of importance) to becoming a great cook is learning how to fix your mistakes in a way that won’t sacrifice the quality of a dish.
Tonight I made a b00-boo. I’m making homemade meat sauce for spaghetti and I was on the phone while I was cooking (a no-no for sure) and went from sautéing Portabello mushrooms directly to adding ricotta cheese… which was very, very wrong. So without wasting my mushrooms I had to figure out how to get the cheese off of them so I could get back to business… Wipe them off? Not a chance… So that left rinsing them off. Water? Eww. Fortunately for me there was a bottle of red wine sitting on the counter and that + my handy strainer gave me what I needed. My mushrooms got a wine bath and went back to cooking.
Lesson learned: Do not talk on the phone while cooking + Always keep a bottle of wine handy.
The first key is Instincts. You have to be creative with what you have. Think outside of the pot. xo