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How to Go From Good Cook to Gourmet Chef

Perhaps you don’t aspire to make a living from mastering the culinary arts by enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, or Castello di Vicarello. Perhaps you don’t want to be an award-winning chef like Thomas Kell, Alice Waters, or Jacques Pepin. But your family and friends love your meals because you love to cook. 

Since you’ve long since realized that cooking creates bonds of belonging, friendship, and love, you occasionally daydream about becoming really good at it. You spend time fantasizing about blossoming from a good cook to a gourmet chef, someone with that special touch in the kitchen–a wizard who casually transforms a family’s holiday dinner into a celebration of the taste buds. If this picture describes you, here are some tips to help you rise to the next level of craftsmanship.

Redesign Your Kitchen

Your kitchen is your workshop. The better, the more spacious and convenient your layout, the easier it will be to whip up an excellent meal. 

Begin by creating a floor plan using an app to visualize your kitchen in three dimensions. A few things to consider in designing your kitchen layout include putting your stove on a wall, placing your sink in a convenient place, and making sure your kitchen island is neither too close nor too far from your main fixtures. 

You may also want to consider building an outdoor kitchen.

If you enjoy entertaining guests, then building an outdoor kitchen might be a great idea. Imagine grilling your food out on the patio, with guests milling around the grill. Rather than going in and out of the house to get what you need, an outdoor kitchen will also give you easy access to an outdoor kitchen cabinet with all your cutlery, carving knives, skillets, pots, and pans.

Take Professional Care of Your Cookware

Learning how to take good care of your cookware will make a huge difference in the quality of your meals. For instance, stainless steel cookware is perfect for giving your meals a crisp brown edge, but you have to learn to regularly season this cookware to avoid food from sticking to it.

Master Basic Knife Skills

If you walked into a huge restaurant kitchen, how would you be able to discern the line cooks from the chefs? Assuming that everyone dresses the same and is quietly going about their work, one thing that might jump out at you would be who’s knife work is the best.

A chef knows how to use just the right knife for the job because he or she understands the value of making perfect cuts. Mastering basic knife skills involves using the right knife, knowing how to grip it properly, and understanding how to use a few simple, efficient motions. Once you learn how to use a knife well, you’ll be able to cut food faster with more economy of motion.

Practice Basic Kitchen Skills

There are many practical skills that you can learn to become more adept in the kitchen. Practice knife skills by chopping up vegetables into the same sized-pieces, practice cracking a fistful of eggs with just one hand, practice pan flipping techniques with dry beans, and practice browning food without moving it every minute.

Enroll in Gourmet Cooking Classes

After you’ve remodeled your kitchen, learned how to take excellent care of your cookware, and mastered basic kitchen skills, then you’re finally ready to cook gourmet meals. While you can learn from online classes or by experimenting with recipes from a cookbook, the best way to learn how to become a superb cook is by enrolling in a gourmet cooking class. 

Taking a class with a culinary mentor, cooking in a well-outfitted kitchen with the best equipment, including luxuries like a wood-fired oven, will put the finishing touches to your apprenticeship and your family and friends will rush to your table, demanding to be fed.

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