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By Shane Young | August 30, 2013 |
Over the last 15 years, I’ve spent a lot of time over the chopping board, cutting whole food into smaller pieces. In that quiet time, there’s a lot of space for reflection. A topic that I keep coming back to is ‘how to help someone be a better cook’. This is especially present for me now, as I work with new clients all the time, tailoring a private cooking school for each of them. While everyone has certain loves and strengths, there are also individual measures of discomfort and avoidance. It seems like there are a few themes that I keep mentioning to all of my clients, regardless of likes or skill levels. So in this post, I wanted to lay out what I would consider some of the foundations of better cooking. Even great cooking, really!
Here they are:
Shop With Purpose: For me, this starts even before you head to your local market. Have an idea (or a spreadsheet, if that’s you) of what you plan to be cooking. Know before you go. Then you’ll get what you need, and get home. Economize your efforts here. Have a plan, or you will walk away with things you don’t need (or want) and they will die a slow refrigerator death.
Cook With Purpose: Part two of the purpose theme. Evaluate the items you have to cook with, Decide what you want to do with them (have a vision!), Gather the things that you need (and nothing else), Execute your vision. EDGE is the acronym I use for this technique. Evaluate, Decide, Gather, Execute.
Taste, Taste, Taste: The three things that will make your food exponentially better. Right now. And what I mean by taste, taste, taste, is start by tasting your ingredients (or at least smelling them) to get to know them. Taste while you’re cooking to get to know the process. Taste all along, and here’s why: you’re developing your skills of evaluation and decision making. When you taste, do you like it? Do you not like it? When the dish is ready, taste to adjust the final seasoning. Would you like there to be more salt, more acid, more spice, less bitterness, more cow bell?? You’re in charge here, and you need to learn to listen to your tastes. And satisfy them! Make the food taste great to YOU.
Enjoy Your Food: Take the time to savor the food that you’ve made and appreciate the balance of flavors and textures you’ve created. Even if it isn’t ah-mazing, you’ll still get the chance to evaluate your cooking (taste!!) and decide what you’d like to do differently the next time you make that omelette, or the next time you broil your Petrale Sole. Take a breath, and really get into it.
Incorporate these ideas into your cooking and food life. You’ll see great changes right away.
Eat well, and be well–
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