We’re always on the lookout for great tips that will improve time spent in the kitchen, so recently we decided to ask some professionally-trained chefs to share their best cooking or kitchen tips with us. Here’s what they had to say!
Forget the Clock
“Cooking times are really useless in my opinion. My oven and your oven might be off by as much as 100 degrees from one another. Your sauté pan might not retain heat as well as mine. When using the oven, check halfway through the published cooking time and constantly be checking after that. A good chef always uses their eyes, nose, and fingers to check food, not their timer.”
— Tom Fabbri, Professional Chef & Personal Trainer
Frugal & Fit
“If you buy more herbs than you plan to use in two to three days, make pestos or blend the herbs with a little water and freeze in ice cube trays to use in dressings, soups, or even in shakes at a later date. Pestos can also be frozen or else they must be used within one week.
Another frugal tip: Save vegetable peels and the carcass of a roasted chicken to make a ‘free” chicken broth, since you would have thrown all these scraps away anyway. By making a broth, you extract every last nutrient out of these “scraps.” The broth can be used in soups or stews or it can be frozen in canning jars, baggies, or ice cube trays for future use.”
— Elizabeth Brown, Registered Dietitian & Holistic Chef
Grow Your Own
“Eating on and from the land harks back to earlier times. It’s a reinvention of the old-fashioned block parties and village picnics that used to characterize America’s small towns and close-knit communities when every household boasted a famous pie or chicken-with-dumplings recipe. Although I love the produce we get from our garden, what I enjoy more is the way it attracts our next-door neighbors, our back-door neighbors, our across-street neighbors and our across-town neighbors. Everyone likes to gather in the garden; our family, our kids’ buddies, neighbors, dear friends, and new acquaintances. Some people help with the garden, others prepare food picked from it, and still others provide entertainment. Everyone has a good time and there’s room for everyone and what they bring to the table.”
— Michel Nischan, Sustainable food pioneer, chef & author
Secret Thickening Agent
When making hummus or muhammara (or any type of strong flavored Middle-Eastern dip), if the texture of the dip is too runny here is a solution: Either add 1/2 cup (or more depending on need) of instant oatmeal flakes that have been soaked in boiling water and drained or a couple of handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs to restore the needed texture to the hummus, baba ghannouj, muhammara, etc. The taste of the oatmeal or breadcrumbs will not be detected and the texture will be improved.
— Joumana Accad, Pastry Chef & founder of Taste of Beirut
Le Cordon Bleu Mini-Lesson
- Add a splash of vinegar to eggs before you boil them for bright yellow yolks and pearl white skins.
- Always let meat sit at room temperature for one hour before you cook.
- Use white sea salt to finish seasoning after cooking and gray sea salt to season before cooking.
- The flavor must decide what a dish will look like, never the other way around.
- Be a minimalist; less is more. Let the food do all the work with its true God-given flavor; you just help it along.
- Taste everything you make the entire time you are cooking.
- The use of seasoning is 80-percent allowing the dish to taste great on its own.
— Ivan Flowers, Chef Owner of Fournos Restaurant & former instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Scottsdale
“Invest in the highest quality knives you can afford, even if you can only afford to buy one knife at a time. Start your arsenal with a supreme paring knife. Once you make the investment, keep your knives sharp! Use a professional sharpening service or invest in the proper sharpening tools and learn how to do this yourself. There is nothing worse than a dull blade in the kitchen!”
— Christina Sleeper, Chef & Owner of Sleeper’s Gourmet
“Peel ginger with a spoon — it’s easier, safer, more efficient, and so cool.”
— Simon Sheridan, Head Chef at Exquisite Food
A special thanks to all of the chefs for sharing their advice with us!