Sunday, April 14, 2013

Chef Tip of the Week

Mise en Place: The secret to a successful kitchen 

     While Mise en place is a word you may have never heard of before it is something you do in your everyday lives that can and should be implemented in the kitchen.

     Mise en place is a French term that literally translates to "everything in its place". What this describes is having all of the ingredients prepared for a recipe so that it can be made faster and more efficiently. This is a fundamental concept for all chefs working in restaurants because staying organized is how you succeed in producing hundreds of dinners in only a few short hours.

     The problem is that many home cooks do not properly prepare their ingredients which creates a frustrating and un-enjoyable cooking experience. So many times people just pull out a recipe and decide that's what they want without even making sure if they have all the ingredients, the equipment, or the time. Another mishap is that cooks begin a recipe by just reading the first line and then going at it. If a recipe first says to saute some minced garlic it will be burnt in the pan before you have the time to get to the second step which says add sliced onions. By cutting all the ingredients according to the recipe and then beginning the cooking process you can assure your timing will always be correct.

     In a professional kitchen environment this phrase is more than just spoken word is it a religion that if followed keeps the cook sane, kitchen clean, and food exceptional. Best said in The New Professional Chef  written by the Culinary Institute of America " Mise en place means far more than simply assembling all the ingredient, pots and pans, plates, serving pieces needed for a particular period. Mise en place is also a state of mind. Someone who has truly grasped the concept is able to keep many tasks in mind simultaneously, weighing and assigning each its proper value and priority. This assures that the chef has anticipated and prepared for every situation that could logically occur during a service."

     What does this mean for the home cook though?  Do we recommend having to cut every single ingredient and set it up in small bowls before hand like a TV chef when your'e making a fast weeknight meal, NO. But mise en place will save you time and is especially useful when timing and quantity is of the essence like cooking a thanksgiving feast.

     Here are some basic Mise en place steps to keep in mind when you are in the kitchen.
1. Always read the entire recipe before you begin any work
2. Determine what ingredients and equipment are needed and make sure you have them
3. Start the job with a clean work area
4. Prepare your ingredients by cutting, separating, and pre-measuring
6.Clean as you go, so at the end its already half way done

     Following a little Mise en place by putting everything in its place will help organize any kitchen and make your cooking experience that much more enjoyable.

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