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.
Using non-stick pans
“Don’t use non-stick pans! Basically the only thing [chefs] use a non-stick pan for in our professional kitchen is egg cookery. I know people that cook almost everything in non-stick, which is a flavor killer. Nothing beats a high-quality stainless steel or cast iron pan. If you’re worried about protein sticking, get your pan VERY hot before adding oil, and you won’t have problems with sticking, plus you’ll get a much better sear leading to greatly improved flavor. ” —Chef Jim Heflin of Chicago’s Centre Street Kitchen
Leaving a mess as you cook
“A professional chef would also clean as they go! They will have everything prepped out which will allow them time to do this.” —Tracy Wilk, Lead Chef and Recipe Editor (Recreational Program) at the Institute of Culinary Education. Also, avoid these common kitchen mistakes you’re probably making.
Using a microwave
“I got rid of my microwave a few years back and haven’t looked back. If I want to re-heat food, melt butter, or boil water I use my stovetop. Most chefs I know are in alignment with doing this as well.” —Melissa Eboli, owner of Via’s Kitchen, a personal chef and catering company
Using the same cutting board for everything
Use a different cutting board for each ingredient in your recipe, especially if you’re cutting raw chicken because chicken can carry a bacteria called salmonella. Always use different cutting boards for meat, vegetables, and fruit. —Chef Saul Montiel, Executive Chef at Cantina Rooftop. If you do run into a common cooking disaster, here’s how to fix it.
Not considering cooking times
“A chef always begins with the item that takes the longest first and progresses to the fastest things last. It seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people will chop vegetables before starting the pasta water.” —Yankel Polak, head chef at ButcherBox
Not reading the entire recipe
“The first thing many cooks at home don’t do is read the complete recipe. I always start out in the kitchen doing this. Not only the list of ingredients, but the step by step instructions on how to prep, cook, and plate a recipe. They should make sure they have the proper equipment and utensils to complete the recipe. If they’re unsure of any product or cooking technique, do some online research to complete the recipe before continuing!” —Executive Chef Jim August at popular Chicago neighborhood bar and restaurant, Cortland’s Garage. These are some baking mistakes you didn’t know you were making.
Making fish ahead of time
“If you are serving fish as an entree don’t make it ahead of time and then reheat. It’s best to prepare and season the fish and cook it right before you serve it. The quality will be much better.” —Celebrity caterer, Andrea Correale of Elegant Affairs Caterers
Spicing food after it has been made
“I have seen friends cook a whole meal, and not add spices until the very end to flavor it. This is a big mistake as the food needs to cook with the spices. Especially if making a dish that has oil and fat with a sauté in the beginning of preparation, it is best to sauté let’s say onions and garlic with the spices, then add meat and anything else that may be going into the dish for optimal flavor. When the spices mix with the oil it helps to get all aromas out, and then it also binds to the food and flavors the dish.” —Melissa Eboli, owner of Via’s Kitchen, a personal chef and catering company
“Tip: do not oversalt food! If you are preparing a dish with multiple components that are seasoned separately then served together, beware of the overall salt content of the dish as a whole” —Avi Burn, Owner of Pinks Cantina. Avoid these common grilling mistakes as well.
Not prepping the ingredients first
“One thing I notice home cooks do while following a recipe is that they prepare things while they are cooking. This creates a DISASTER in the kitchen and doubles up on clean up time as well as resulting in forgotten and burnt food. I admit it gives me anxiety to watch. If you prepare each ingredient the recipe calls for and have them ready beforehand it helps keep you stay organized and clean, plus your family will love you!” —Chef Matthew Olley of Silver Light Tavern in Williamsburg, Brooklyn