Cooking 101: Culinary Basics for Aspiring Chefs

Nov 14, 2017 | Harrison College

Cooking 101: Culinary Basics for Aspiring Chefs

You spend hours looking at recipes thinking about how you could improve them. You've watched every episode of Iron Chef...twice.

Cooking isn't just something you love, it's a part of you. But before you can open your 5-star restaurant, you'll need to start with the culinary basics.

Ready to start learning? Keep reading as we walk you through the kitchen 101.

Condiments and Spices

You're going to need a robust set of spices and condiments to flavor your food. The right spice is capable of making a bland dish into something truly revolutionary.

Make sure you have all of the following in your pantry:

  • Salt (or sea salt)
  • Pepper (cracked or traditional)
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika
  • Cinnamon
  • Chili powder
  • Curry powder
  • Sugar

It may seem like a lot, but you can pick up any of these ingredients at your local grocery store for just a few dollars. Of course, spices alone won't do the trick.

Try and keep a strong rotation of the following condiments, too, as they add both flavor and texture:

  • Sriracha
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard (Dijon, honey, regular)
  • Mayonaise
  • Hot sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce

Each of these will add a distinct flavor to your dishes, no matter the ingredient. The more fully stocked your pantry, the more creative you can get with your flavors.

Sharpen Your Skills

If you've ever tried cutting with a dull knife, you know how frustrating it can be. Every chef needs a set of sharpened chef's knives.

They're a bit more expensive than your standard knives, but boy do they make a huge difference. Do a bit of research before buying your first set, the market is pretty extensive and you don't want to buy the wrong set.

Now it's time to focus on the primary types of cuts. Generally, you'll need to utilize one of the following:

  • Julienne
  • Dice
  • Squaring
  • Brunoise
  • Batonnet
  • Chiffonade

If you're starting to feel intimidated, it's okay! There's a lot to learn when it comes to culinary basics. Even the most seasoned of chefs had to start somewhere.

Take your time and practice good kitchen safety. Keep a first aid kit near your kitchen at all times for safety and watch tutorials before trying a cut yourself.

Mise En Place

Now comes the really fun part, dressing the plate! Ask any chef the trickiest part of preparing and serving a meal, and they'll all likely give you the same answer: mise en place.

French for, "everything in its place", this is when food becomes art. Dressing a plate in an appealing way requires a certain amount of finesse and skill.

You can't just dump food on a plate and expect your patrons to think it's gorgeous.

Think of mise en place as Feng Shui for the plate. Each individual aspect contributes to the overall look and feel of your dish. Consider size, color, and balance before you begin dressing your plate.

Learn Basic Flavor Profiles

Learning the culinary basics may be a lot of work, but its study tactics can't be beaten. After all, what other field is going to let you study by snacking?

Our senses are remarkably complex, and like a muscle, we need to exercise them every now and again. This is when you'll stop eating food and start really tasting it.

Decipher different tastes like sweet, salty, and citrusy and you'll have a huge advantage. The more you practice detecting distinct notes of flavor, the more refined your palate will be.

Culinary Basics: Advancing Your Love of Cooking

Whether you're cooking professionally or just for fun, it's important to always practice. The above tips may be culinary basics, but they'll carry you far if you learn to leverage them.

If you're interested in learning more about the world of cooking, be sure to contact us today! Our culinary arts degree will teach you everything you need to know to be a successful chef.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us today and start your journey towards an exciting new culinary career!

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