Every home cook out there has their own share of nifty tips and tricks for getting a dish just right. But there are some things that you can only learn from someone in the trade — someone ‘in-the-know’ enough to have been passed over the secrets to a successful kitchen.
Just a couple of days ago, we had the benefit of interviewing one of those ‘someones’. Namely, the Canadian Chef, Bobby Rahman — who is widely renowned in Ontario for his mastery of what the locals laud as Authentic Canadian Cuisine.
Today, we share all the insights that we were able to glean from Chef Bobby Rahman’s experience as a professional chef so that you can level up your own culinary mastery!
1. The Number One Rule: Mise En Place
Bobby Rahman: In a professional setting, Mise en place is especially important. If you’re not familiar with it. It’s basically the practice of prepping before cooking. I always say that cooking is like an art form, and that’s because it takes creativity to pull it off. But it’s also a bit like a science experiment — in that, once you’ve got the recipe down, you’ll have to follow a strict set of rules in order to replicate it. That means cutting up all your ingredients beforehand, measured (if at all possible), and making sure they are ready at hand for when you need them.
As a home cook, you might not think it necessary at first. But trust me. It’s a real game-changer. Think of your pre-cooking time as the ‘calm’ time. This is when you think up your battle strategy — when you get all your ducks lined up in a row and ready for the fight ahead.
2. Keep Notes
Bobby Rahman: Okay, I know it sounds fussy. But unless you’ve got a super-powered brain, notes are your friend! Buy a journal to jot your recipes down, download a note-taking app, glue down a pen stand on the counter for emergency notes on your cookbooks — just do whatever you need to in order to make sure that you always have something on hand to note when things work and when they do not.
Again, trust me on this, you will be incredibly grateful to your past self when you remember that the so-and-so dish is better when kept in the oven for longer (or whatever else you should remember to make sure that you have the perfect dish next time around).
Oh, and of course, when there comes a time that you want to pass on your recipes to your children (or your grandchildren!), having those notes on hand will make things so much easier. And the recipes themselves would make a sweet family hand-me-down for the rest of the generations to come.
3. Practice Your Knife Work
Bobby Rahman: Want to impress your guests? Some basic knife skills will go very far in making sure that your meals look as delicious as they taste.
Knife work was one of the first things that I practiced as a starter chef. It was something that I can work on whenever, and it’s a skill that has ensured that I’m not only staying safe in the kitchen but also that I’m a productive member of any restaurant.
4. Keep Your Ingredients Fresh
Bobby Rahman: The ideal for any kitchen is to be able to purchase fresh ingredients the day of, but that’s not realistic for many (if any!) home cooks. So, you have to mind where you’re storing your ingredients.
No matter what you believe the proper storage methods are, you have to take into account that there are a lot of variations in the rules depending on where you live and what kind of kitchen you have. So, the best thing that you can do is to spend a bit of catch-up reading up on the best storage methods in your area — not only will that extra bit of research make sure that your dishes stay delicious, but it should also save you quite a bit of money in the long-run.
5. Clean as You Cook
Bobby Rahman: A big part of cooking is enjoying your meal. And, if you have to spend a big chunk of time cleaning up and getting your kitchen spotless again before eating that meal, that’s going to take a lot of the enjoyment away.
Now, to alleviate some of this, the best thing to do is to clean a little bit here and there. Waiting for the stew to cook? Take on the dishes that have piled up! Preparing to proof your dough? Wipe down the counter! I know it seems like a hassle but it’s really not all that bad. In fact, I’d bet that you’d feel like things are going faster than before by keeping busy.
Zoya Maryam, is an Entrepreneur, Active Author, Marketing, and Fundraising Consultant. Her breakthrough is primarily from generating millions of digital impressions for Entertainment, Blockchain Industry, and various Startups.