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I have recently developed this huge passion for cooking, even though I've been cooking since i was 15 and have been a chef for the last 10 years. I think I am addicted to it. Or am I addicted to eating my cooking? Either way, I want to share my experiences with whom ever is interested. That is why I started this blog. Currently I am self employed as a private/personal chef and a stay at home dad. I am very thankful to have ended my restaurant career not so long ago! It's a hard life, especially when your trying to raise a family! I live in Naples, Florida where I met my beautiful wife while working at a yacht club about 3 years ago. We now have a little 6 month old daughter and life as we know it has changed forever ( for the better)! There is something going on in the food world that is very exciting! People are starting to open their eyes a little. We're going back in time, back to the farm, back to the dinner table. Something that has to be done in my opinion. I spent a lot of time at the dinner table as a child and thought is was very beneficial in how I ended up. The thing I like best about being a chef is that I will never learn it all. Ever!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mise en Place

I finally got over my writer's block!  Whew!  It was rough and now I'm starting fresh.  This goes out to all you rookie cooks!  
The very first term you learn at a good culinary school is "Mise en Place".  It's French for, "everything in its place".  Why am I telling you this?  Well, some of you may already know and practice this and that is great!  But I'm trying to motivate all you non-cooks out there that have an excuse not to cook.  I honestly think that most people don't cook at home because they make a huge mess.  And I think they make a huge mess because they start a recipe without their mise en place.  There are two types of mise en place that you should have before you start cooking anything.  The first is called "mental mise en place".  You have to prepare your mind before you prepare any ingredients.  Here is what I do before I enter the kitchen.  I read the recipe.  I read the recipe again and then I read it a third time.  I ask myself, Does this make sense?  I question every step because sometimes a recipe's steps are out of order.  I close my eyes and imagine myself cooking the recipe.  I imagine heating a pan.  Then I picture myself adding the oil to the pan and watching it shimmer and smoke a little bit.  Go through the steps in your head.  
For you home cooks that haven't read a thousand recipes this is key.  Sometimes a recipe might tell you to add something without telling you that you needed to chop it first.  I've seen a lot of recipes telling me to add an ingredient that wasn't even listed.  So forget about starting a recipe without reading it several times beforehand. 
The other type of mise en place is the physical mise en place.  Your chopped garlic, your sliced red peppers, your peeled and seeded tomatoes, etc.  Anything that you can do before you turn the stove on will hopefully prevent your kitchen from looking like a bomb went off afterwards.   Even getting your utensils together.  Heck, sometimes I go as far as knowing where my utensils are going to be on my prep station.  
Another thing I highly recommend is cleaning as you go.  I'm constantly wiping up the counters and stove while I'm cooking.  Your always going to have time during cooking to wash a dish here and wash a spatula there and so forth.  
So quit making excuses and go find a recipe that interests you.  Gather your thoughts, gather the ingredients, gather the equipment and let's get Cookin'!  

p.s. make sure your knives are SHARP!  I will talk about that in my next post.

Until then, check out these cute little silicone pinch bowls for your mise en place:
Chef Don


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