Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's all the little things...

A friend who comes for dinner regularly has taken to asking me about cooking professionally. "C'mon, tell me some secrets. What do you guys do to the food that makes it taste so good?." Or, upon dining on my jambalaya one night, she asked if I learned to make that at the restaurant. So far I have provided her dissappointing answers: No, the jambalaya is mine, it's not a dish I make at the restaurant. As for tricks, I can't really think of any. And it's the truth.

I have been cooking professionally for only about four months and feel that I have learned very little in the way of cooking. I am a self-taught cook, and a pretty decent one at that, if I may say so myself. I knew quite a bit about cooking even before becoming a professional cook, and it was that knowledge and love of food that made me decide that I wanted to become a chef, that I wanted to be surrounded by food, that if I could do any job out there, cooking would be the job that would make my heart sing.

I am not saying I did not learn things in four months, but those things are not so much on cooking. I have learned that an Executive Chef spends a lot less time cooking than I'd previously thought. The job involves doing inventory and ordering food (i.e produce, meats, dry goods), it involves scheduling staff, it involves teaching and doing payroll. I have learned that some items on the menu need to be prepared ahead of time (rice, for example) and I have learned more about safe handling of food. My knife skills have improved without me giving any conscious thought to improving. It just happened. Cutting stuff up for at least 8 hours a day, you're bound to get better at it!

For me, so far the learning has been the little things, the things I don't even realize I am learning. The knife handling, as I mentioned. Remembering to always garnish a plate. Remembering to taste, taste, taste as you're cooking. Season your food. Serving hot food on hot plates and cold food on cold. You know, the little things...

No comments:

Post a Comment