Plan ahead – The best chef's work off of a pre-planned menu, which allows them to prepare thoroughly, getting all the ingredients and utensils that they need to make the cooking of their meal run smoothly. If you are unorganized then you will get stressed during the cooking process and things are more likely to go wrong. Prior planning prevents poor performance!
Start with the best ingredients – The success of a dish relies on the ingredients you use, and you will definitely be able to taste the difference in your food by using the best quality ingredients. Your cake will taste miles better if you use excellent chocolate, imported Parmigiano-Reggiano tastes so much better than domestic parmesan cheese that they can scarcely be compared.
Learn techniques, not recipes – Practicing techniques like roasting, sautéing, braising and steaming will allow your creative juices to flow better. Improving your knowledge on cooking techniques will release you from the ties of cookbooks and recipes and let you cook what you want, therefore become more confident in the kitchen.
Have good tools – Invest in a good set of knives and a chopping board. They will last for a longer amount of time and will even mean you're safer too when cooking and chopping. Don't be afraid of spending a bit of money, as it will improve your technique and ability to no end. They will make you cut sharper and be more precise and organised, therefore making you feel a lot more comfortable in the kitchen.
Use your senses – Using taste, touch, sight and smell, you can greatly improve your cooking ability. Be sure to taste your food often, both before and after seasoning, to see how the flavours mature and develop. With practice, you will know exactly when food is in need of seasoning, instantly making your food much better, as it is difficult to know when seasoning is needed simply by following recipes. Your senses also come into play when determining when food is properly cooked. Recipe timings are not calibrated to your stove or your personal taste, so it is important, for example, to know what a steak will feel like when it's cooked to your likings, making sure that it does not get under or overcooked.
Rest your meat – This is one of the key things that amateur cooks don't do, and what chefs never fail to do. Cooking meat is such a violent process, making all of the juices in the meat go to the centre and away from the edges of the meat, making it tough and chewy. Resting makes these juices spread throughout the meat again, making it much more succulent and tender, and making your food seem a lot more professional.
Imagine yourself at a very, very expensive restaurant – Before you serve someone food, picture yourself at a table at a high end restaurant, where you expect only the best. Would you be happy receiving what you have just cooked? If not, start again! Only when you're perfectly happy with your plate should it be presented to whoever you're serving, this will make all the difference.
Get the hang of simple dishes before moving onto more complex ones – No matter how closely you follow the recipe, trying to make your favourite dish that needs 15 complex processes that you've never heard of before will rarely be a success. It is important to build yourself up, practicing the simpler techniques and dishes before moving onto the more difficult, impressive things. One you master the simpler meals, you will feel more confident in your ability and more likely to make a delicious dish.
Author Bio: This is a guest post by Elle. Elle is writing for Global Knives, Leading Supplier of Professional Chefs Knives.
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