I’ve been cooking a lot the last few days. And I’ve been thinking about cooking—especially while I watch shows on the Food Network. There is a tremendous difference between the cooks on the Food Network and cooking at home. In thinking clearly about this, I’ve identified 5 More Things That Will Absolutely Make Me a Better Chef (with only minimal overlap to the original Five Ways to be a Better Cook). You may feel free to provide any of these for your loving mother.
Five (More) Things That Will Instantly Make You a Better Cook
A Set Just for Cooking
Have you noticed that cooking shows are not set in real life? Someone builds a set just for cooking. The ovens are the right size, there are enough burners, there’s enough prep space, the pantry is perfectly stocked, and – most importantly – there are no small humans running through, grabbing a snack, and forgetting they once knew how to clean up.
There are no piles of bills, no papers that need to be attended to, no pots that have to get put away. There are no breakfast dishes, no half-filled glasses of water, no K-cups left 2 feet from the garbage.
I would definitely be a better cook (or at least look like one) if I had my own cooking set.
A Prep Cook
Have you noticed that the professionals don’t have to do their own prep work? Someone else washes the green beans, someone else chops the garlic and the onions (and does the onion crying off camera), someone else measures the spices into adorable little dishes.
Not only would this be a huge time saver, it would save me from running around the kitchen screaming, “Someone stir the sauce while I find the cumin!” because the cumin would be right there in its little dish ready to go. I also wouldn’t have to send Pi to the grocery store for an emergency brown sugar run, because we wouldn’t have emergencies like that. Someone would have figured out two days ago that we needed to stock up.
A Real Chef
The main thing that would make me a better cook is if I were a better cook. Or failing that, having a chef as a cooking double. So that rather than doing my own stunts in the kitchen (“Does anyone know where the fire extinguisher is???”), I could have a trained chef step in and manage everything (and by “manage everything” I mean cook). Then I’d have plenty of time to fiddle around doing things that wouldn’t get in the way (“Glass of wine while we watch the pro? Yes, please”). This would greatly improve the quality coming out of the kitchen while simultaneously minimizing the stress I put in the kitchen. Win all around.
A Clean Up Crew
Seems to me the best part of being a TV chef is having a crew come in afterward to clean up the dishes, the stove, the oven, the countertop, the floor, the walls, and anything else that needs fluffing and cleaning.
To be fair, I have the Puppy, but he focuses exclusively on floor level. He’s open to helping clean the higher level areas, but I am not.
I would definitely do more in the kitchen if I had a great clean up team.
Great Friends and Family to Share the Meal
They leave out the best part on some of the TV cooking shows. On some of the shows, there are just two people (or sometimes just the chef) tasting the food.
“Wow, I just made fab food. Let me taste it and tell you how great it is.”
Even I can do that. I can often even keep a straight face while I say something like that.
But really, the part that makes meals fun and fabulous is having great people sitting around sharing stories and food, talking and tippling, asking for seconds and trying something new.
And that part I can manage without professional intervention.