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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Think Like A Chef - What I Learned

A follower who has been extremely helpful to me suggested I write a blog talking about all of the things that I learned during my “Think Like A Chef” journey.  Sounds like a good idea to me, so:

I learned – perhaps most importantly – that I am able to cook without a recipe.  This was actually the intention of the whole “Think Like A Chef” thing in the first place.  Start with one ingredient – a vegetable most likely – and let the idea grow into something larger.  Or, look in the fridge, see what you have, and go for it!

I learned you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a great meal.  Colicchio does an entire chapter about focusing on three ingredients.  Oddly enough, he gave that challenge to some “Last Chance Kitchen” “cheftestants” on Top Chef recently.

I learned there is a tradeoff between really good ingredients and convenience.  I learned this when I made my own chicken stocks…going from a white chicken stock to a brown chicken stock vs. using a high quality “stock in a box.”  I think you really can tell a difference making fresh stock, but the convenience of using box stock – particularly when you don’t have a great deal of room in the fridge – is ok with me.  I will make stock in the future for special occasions, but for everyday life, box stock works for me.

I learned plating.  This is still a bit of a struggle for me.  However, I am slowly getting better at it, and have actually looked up some plating articles on the internet.  So I hope in the future you will see some beautiful plating from me.

I learned although making up your own recipe can be fun and fulfilling, cooking using a recipe is ok as well.  I am making Christmas dinner this year.  I found a recipe by Bobby Flay which uses a pomegranate molasses.  I think this recipe sounds fantastic, and I don’t think there is a way I can make that recipe my own, so I will cook it as instructed. (The sides, on the other hand…)

Finally, on a more humorous note, I learned that those kids on Master Chef Junior are light years ahead of me.  How did they get so good so quick?  I’m a little jealous, to be honest…

So there you go.  I am already thinking about my Christmas dinner…I was thinking of perhaps mashed potato using a compound butter, and then maybe a salad with pomegranate seeds to tie in some flavors…I’m not quite sure yet.  But it will be interesting, fun, and a continued learning experience.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo to you, Chef (may I call you "Chef"?) :)
    This was a great piece and probably only scratched the surface of your actual accomplishments along the way. I hope that you continue exploring new flavors, new herbs, new ingredients, and that you enjoy the challenges and successes of your creations. Whatever you do, don't stop now. As I like to say….Keep on Cooking!