A single episode of Hell’s Kitchen can show you how much work goes into becoming a chef. In a restaurant kitchen, your blood boiling like it was on the menu is the norm. If the judges/leaders shout at you, it is a way to confirm you are still in. On the other side of the cooking industry, dreams and hopes are washed away on food containers that are rancid. It never gets easier if you are doing good or not.
We are looking at the graduates of the school who have been to hell and back to find out what cooking tips they have to share. Thanks to a question posed on r/Cooking, we can now learn some useful tricks without selling our sanity to the kitchen.
1. A cooking tip is not a food tip. A knife has no handle. Get out of the way and let the knife hit the floor. It is easy to wash. If you try to catch it, you could end up in the emergency room.
2. If you’re a home cook, you should always clean up after yourself. After you’ve eaten and you’re full, you don’t have a sink full of dishes and stuff to put away.
3. Recipes are like a road map. It’s ok to deviate, you don’t have to follow them exactly. If you are baking, follow the recipe exactly.
4. The stem of broccoli can be used. It’s delicious if you peel, slice, and fry it.
5. “A chef here. A world of difference can be made by hot pans. It’s never a good idea to start anything in a cold pan.”
6. Instead of learning recipes, learn different cooking techniques.
7. Take a small hand towel and either loop it through a belt loop or between your waist and belt so it hangs over your leg. You don’t need to go out of your way to wipe your hands and instruments off as you move around.
8. A recipe for one clove of garlic is the only one that should be used.
9. When making a sauce for pasta, you should add some of the water you used to boil the pasta in. This will make the pasta taste better.
10. It’s always better to use real better, rather than margarine.
11. Pay attention to what you see. It sounds different at different stages of sauteing onions. As steam escapes and settles down to a crackle, more of a hiss at the start, as all that’s left is vegetable and fat. Everything you cook will have subtle changes to the way they smell.
12. It’s a good idea to add some sugar to your chili or spaghetti sauce. Some of the acidity is taken out.
13. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not for cooking. It has a very low smoke point. For higher heat, you want regular Olive Oil, not Extra Virgin.
14. Soy sauce or fish sauce can be used as a substitute for salt.
15. Try not to hang a box over the dish when adding salt. Always put it in hand first.
16. Mise en place. Before you start, make sure your stuff is ready to go. You don’t want to burn something if you’re not looking for it or opening it.
17. It will help the blade stay sharp longer if you put the ingredients from the cutting board into a pot with the back of the knife.
18. It should be simple. Something with 3-4 ingredients that go well together is better than something with 12 ingredients that clash with each other.
19. Salt early and salt late. Salt is added at different points in cooking.
20. There is no point in rinsing pre-cut chicken and salmon.
21. The electric stove is much hotter than the gas stove. A high setting on gas will get you a nice sear, but a low setting on electric will burn. It’s not something to worry about in the kitchen, but at home.
22. “A chef told me this. You can always stop cooking. If you need to take it out of the oven, take it off the burner. Surprisingly helpful tip.”
23. You should always use cold water and cornstarch to make gravy. It won’t make it lumpy.
24. Pre-marinated meats are usually older cuts of meat as a means of rescued with a marinade to cover the unfreshness and smell. Avoid buying them.
25. Always use timers. They save lives.
26. Always better to make your own chicken stock.
27. A few drops of a hot sauce like Crystal can be used in a vinaigrette, dip, or sauce, but it can take it to a different level. A touch of heat, sugar, or acid can turn a flat dish into something people want. Add more little drops. You should stop when you taste it.
28. Using scissors to cut things. Some cuts of meat, veggies, and cherry tomatoes are included. The way cleaner cuts make it much faster to clean up.
29. When you make your space clean, it allows you to move faster and be more flexible. Good way to cook conveniently.
30. Work like an assembly line. Cut the ends off, peel everything, and slice it. If you chop 500 veggies at the same time, it will take so long. You slow down when you change jobs. The quicker you can get, the less you have to change actions.