5 Chef Skills That Will Make You a Better Home Cook
Cooking is fun. It’s also rewarding and a great confidence booster. Knowing that you can take care of yourself and your loved ones is a great feeling. Having the ability to cook something nice for that special someone is a huge plus too.
Cooking is also a skill that takes time to master, but the good news is that the more often you cook, the better you become. To help you speed up the learning process, we’ve put together a few chef skills that make all the difference.
1. Choose Your Weapon
Knife skills are the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a skilled chef. The trick here is to chop meat, fish, and veggies fast and safely, knives are dangerous, after all.
The difference between a professional cook and an amateur is consistency; you can tell when a pro chopped an onion, or when garlic was minced by an experienced cook for the size of the chopped bits.
Take your time, and chop slowly, but focus on consistent slices and even results, speed comes with time.
2. Mise en Place
Don’t panic, that’s is a fancy French way of saying “Everything in its place and a place for everything” — and it’s your new mantra in the kitchen.
The first thing chefs are taught in culinary school is to keep their workspace clean and organized. A suitable workspace not only will improve the quality of your food, but it will also allow you to work faster.
Prep work is important too; if you try to tackle a recipe before having everything chopped, peeled, and nicely organized, you’ll probably fall behind and finish with a so-so meal. Most of the cooking takes place even before you light up the stove, prep work is essential.
3. Be Creative
This is a handy cooking skill, especially if you need to up your game. Recipes exist for a reason; they’re essential guidelines that’ll allow you to end up with a particular dish. Having said that, rules are meant to be broken, so be confident and add your own touch to your food. Creativity is the most priced in professional kitchens, as long as you don’t go over the top and change the whole meaning of the dish.
Creativity is also useful when substituting ingredients. You won’t always have what you need to cook a particular dish, but you can easily substitute ingredients for others, and that’s a valuable skill. Use butter instead of olive oil and carrots instead of turnips. The sky’s the limit!
4. Be patient
One of the biggest mistakes amateur chefs and home cooks make is not being patient enough. Good food takes time, yet we always seem to want to rush it. Slow-cooked meat ends up fork tender after several hours at low heat, and even your grilled chicken breast is better off over a low flame for juicy, tender results.
Lifting the lid on a steaming pot or opening the oven door every two minutes to see how things are going is the easiest way to ruin perfectly good food, whether it’s beef stew or cake.
5. Be a team player
If you want to be a great chef, the one skill you most definitely develop is working well with others.
Cooking is a team effort, and there’s no “I” in chef. Cook with your friends and family, and learn to delegate tasks. Cooking with others not only makes cooking more efficient, rendering better results, it’s also much more fun!
Practice makes perfect
Remember, cooking is all about trying different recipes, exploring new possibilities, and stepping away from your comfort zone.
Cooking skills, like any other, can be developed, and they’re well worth your time, so get cooking!