Steal a few secrets from the pros to turn out restaurant-quality food from your own kitchen
“Mise en place” is a French cooking philosophy of preparation: Getting everything chopped, measured and prepped ahead of time streamlines cooking and may preempt disaster.(photo: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)
“How many parties have you done when you’re in a total flurry at the end? The meal may come out on time, but the kitchen ends up absolutely upside down.”
Successful restaurant chefs produce delicious, visually appealing food quickly, often at high volume, sometimes in limited space and always with a tight rein on cost. Many of their tried-and-true methods adapt surprisingly well to home kitchens. You can put their tricks to use to pull off multicourse meals, have everything ready simultaneously, wow your dinner companions with artful presentation and serve a crowd with ease.
Planning & Preparation
Planning and preparation can prevent a meal fiasco. (photo: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)
The French term “mise en place” refers to the philosophy of “everything put in place” used in well-run commercial kitchens. In his book “The Elements of Cooking,” award-winning food writer Michael Ruhlman recommends using this mark of a professional in your home kitchen to conquer complicated recipes and multicourse meals with ease.
In its strictest sense, mise en place streamlines the actual cooking process by putting everything you need for a recipe at your fingertips—chopped, measured and ready to go. But mise en place applies equally well to all stages of a meal, including planning.
“How many parties have you done when you’re in a total flurry at the end? The meal may come out on time, but the kitchen ends up absolutely upside down,” says Jeff Larson, a private chef in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Daytona Beach, Florida.
You can avoid this all too common scenario by taking a few minutes beforehand to jot down a menu plan with estimated time requirements and ordered steps for each dish.
“Plan a menu you can be successful with, leaving no more than three things to do at the last minute,” Larson recommends. This is particularly vital when you cook for a large holiday gathering or are the host of a dinner party for friends.