5 Tips to Prepare You For Your Career As a World-Class Chef
Let’s be honest: this is one of the weirdest times ever….EVER! But just because we’re trapped inside quarantining and social distancing doesn’t mean this period of time has to be a complete waste. In fact, if you’re an introvert or a workaholic, this situation may help you hone your craft without feeling guilty for not hanging out with friends.
No matter what your craft is….you must discipline yourself to be great. Cooking is one of the oldest crafts and professions in the world. Even back in prehistoric cave times, early humans were experimenting with how to use fire to cook food and, later, how to preserve meat by spicing it. If cooking is your craft and you have dreams of becoming a chef someday, use this time inside to hone your skills and add new ones to your arsenal.
Before you start, however, it’s important to equip you and your kitchen with the right tools for the job: quality cookware can be the difference between a good dish and a great dish. Check out the MadeIn Twitter feed for cookware and kitchenware advice from world-class artisans who partner with multi-generational factories and professional chefs.
A great chef knows how to make a killer vinaigrette.
It may sound trivial but think about it: what’s the first course of a dinner? Salad. And what is the key ingredient for a great salad? The dressing! And a great vinaigrette can be used in more than just salads – it can be served on vegetables, sandwiches, seafood, poultry, or even a strip steak.
The secret to making a killer vinaigrette is emulsification. This means combining two things that don’t mix, like oil and vinegar. But the combinations are endless and some of the best chefs in the world have their own trademark secret recipes for amazing vinaigrettes. So work on yours!
How to make perfect pasta.
You probably already know this but people love pasta. It’s one of the most common orders in a restaurant. So that means you need to know how to do it, right? A lot of people don’t, and few things are worse than poorly cooked pasta.
There are entire books written about pasta, but for now let’s just point out that the traditional Italian way to make pasta is to toss the boiled noodles in with the sauce and cook them together. That’s right, no straining.
How to braise like a beast.
Braising is a critical step in making both vegetables and meat. The basic definition is browning the food with heat first and then finishing it in a liquid. But there is a meticulous craft to braising that requires attention and care.
The liquid in which you’re braising should not surpass 212 degrees. You want to cook for longer at a lower temperature so that the meat’s collagen turns into a gelatinous delicious texture that softens the muscles.
How to roast vegetables the right way.
Some people prefer their vegetables raw; others like them steamed or blanched. But you will get the most flavor from your veggies if you roast them in the oven. Cut them into small pieces and lightly coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then toss them (in a cookie sheet, of course) into an oven that’s been preheated to 400 degrees.
Cooking time will depend on the vegetable. Onions and peppers require less time (15-20 minutes); root vegetables like Brussel sprouts and carrots require more (40-50 minutes).
Learn to brine dried beans.
We typically think of brining for meats, but it also works for beans and it is a secret weapon for preparing killer dishes. The full reason why brining beans makes them so good requires a scientific explanation with words like sodium ions and pectin molecules….but suffice it to say that the process leads to soft, tender legumes with incredible taste.
Obviously, there are hundreds of other tips for techniques and methods that will enhance your cooking….but you’ve got to start somewhere. Use this time inside to master new recipes and dishes that will wow your friends and, someday, restaurant reviewers.