20 Things You’re Probably Doing in the Kitchen That Chefs Wouldn’t
Chefs spend almost every day in the kitchen perfecting recipes and creating new ones—so they know how to make a great meal. Here are some common kitchen and cooking mistakes chefs try NOT to make.
The cooking advice you actually need
We all want to be better cooks in our own kitchens if for no other reason than to cook ourselves insanely delicious food every night. But, there are definitely a few things we novice home cooks are probably doing that could be done better—read on to hear from the pros on what you definitely should stop doing in your kitchen for homecooked meals that are better than ever.
Dropping food into hot oil
“A common mistake that people make in the kitchen is when they are about to sear a meat or fish. They tend to drop the meat or fish right into the hot oil and the oil can splatter and burn them. The best method to fix that is to tilt the pan to keep oil on one side and put the meat where there is less oil and then just tilt it back slowly. Also, do not move the pan too much to avoid flames. Have patience!” —Chef Saul Montiel, Executive Chef at Cantina Rooftop. Also, avoid these cooking mistakes that ruin your food.
Following the recipe word for word
“The biggest mistake a home cook can make that a professional chef wouldn’t is following the recipe to the letter! Home cooks treat recipes as non-negotiable contracts. To most chefs, they exist as guidelines. At home, you likely do not have a pantry of 100 items to choose from, which means you have to be able to think on your feet. For example, home cooks can switch out zucchini for butternut squash, or champagne vinegar for white wine vinegar… that’s where the fun and creativity of cooking comes in to make a recipe more suitable to your family” —Chicago chef, Greg Biggers of Margeaux Brasserie
Buying or making too much food
“Most people make or buy too much food. You should serve the 10-12 oz of protein per person, 8 oz. of vegetables, and 8 oz. of starch, and a cup of salad per person.” —Celebrity caterer, Andrea Correale of Elegant Affairs Caterers. These are the foods that professional chefs would never order.
Not preheating your pan
“Not only is this a timesaver while you prep, a chef always has everything hot before ingredients go in. It is especially important when cooking meat.” —Yankel Polak, head chef at ButcherBox
Getting cheap ingredients to save money
“One mistake that home cooks can make is settling on poor ingredients for the sake of convenience. Purchasing sauces that are canned or substituting fresh vegetables with frozen may seem easier but they compromise quality from their meal. Researching basic ingredients and cooking techniques for your meals may be intimidating but with proper practice, anyone can make an ordinary meal extraordinary.” —Chef de Cuisine Allen Schumann at Miami Beach’s Lobster Bar Sea Grille. These brilliant kitchen shortcuts will help you with your next recipe.
Using ingredients that aren’t in season
“Another common mistake people make is using ingredients that are not in season. Not only is it more expensive but they won’t taste the same. Use ingredients that are in season they are less expensive and taste way better.” —Chef Saul Montiel, Executive Chef at Cantina Rooftop
Cooking meat and seafood straight from the fridge
“Don’t cook meat or seafood straight from the fridge without tempering it. It’s always best to remove from the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes to make sure it’s tempered. This will promote more even cooking. When fish is too cold, the outside will cook and the inside will not.” —Executive Chef Robert Sisca at Bistro du Midi in Boston
Not tasting the dish while cooking
“Chefs know to taste at every stage of a recipe, but home cooks often do not taste until a dish is finished, when it is too late to add any depth of flavor.” —Ariane Resnick private chef, best-selling author, and certified nutritionist. These are professional chefs least favorite foods.
“People have a tendency to overlook their veggies. Veggies should be firm al dente. If serving broccoli or cauliflower, for example, cook them so that they still have a crunch.” —Celebrity caterer, Andrea Correale of Elegant Affairs Caterers