Learning to cook is at the top of many New Year’s resolution lists. And it’s easy enough to grab a shiny new stockpot, a cookbook with glossy photographs of mouthwatering stews and picturesque cookies and set about making the first meal of the rest of your cooking life.
Half an hour later, reality sets in and you find yourself sobbing into your hollandaise and wondering how quickly you can order in some pizza and put this whole disaster behind you.
Don’t despair and don’t give up. Learning to cook is a skill and art that must be honed just like anything else. Rome wasn’t built in a day and homemade pie crust wasn’t conquered in an hour. Several chefs, and food personalities weighed in and gave their favorite pieces of advice for any novice to get into the kitchen and stay in the kitchen.
1. Shop Seasonally
Stop trying to make winter peaches happen. They aren’t going to happen.
“Find great seasonal products. The better the product the less you have to do. Just season and cook it with respect for what it is and you should have an amazing start to your journey.” Thiago Silva, Executive Pastry Chef at Union Fare
2. Be Prepared
Leave improvisation to the professionals – set yourself up for success.
“Mise en place! It’s a French term for organizing your ingredients and beginning prep for each step of the recipe before you start cooking. Once you cook a meal this way, with your onions already diced and the stock pre-measured, you will learn that there’s no going back to ‘wingin’ it’ while the pot is over the flame. Think ahead, prep, try to have a grasp of each step of the recipe before you jump in to make it.” Katie Quinn, video journalist and food enthusiast
3. Don’t start with souffle
You can’t start building a house by installing chandeliers before the foundation is set.
“Start with fundamentals. Learn how to use a knife, that’s number one. Learn how to use a pan, how to heat the oil before adding food, how to brown something evenly, how to control the heat. These things start to build upon one another like a foundation. They establish skill and open up new possibilities. Learn the rules, then you’ll know how to break then or not, with edible results.” – Laurence Edelman, Chef and co-owner of Left Bank
4. Don’t just throw it out
It doesn’t have to be perfect to be delicious.
“Most things can be salvaged…over cooked potatoes are still good for mash; over cooked rice can get a second life as pudding; a failed cake mashed with frosting makes fancy cake pops.” Tracy Gogh, private chef
5. Streamline grocery shopping
Seriously…going shopping at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday night does not a delicious dinner make.
“We have said that we need to go to the grocery store at least one time a week and plan our meals. Being in New York, we use delivery services like fresh direct to make this grocery plan a little easier to execute and ultimately get to our apartment. This isnt sexy but it is the truth; cooking at home is all about a game plan and discipline.” Jean-Paul Bourgeois, Blue Smoke Executive Chef and Louisianian
6. Stock your pantry
Stack the deck in your favor so you’re able to cook when the urge strikes you.
“People get overwhelmed because recipe lists tend to be long. It’s important to narrow down your focus on things you want to cook at home in order to stock your pantry. I like to make Chinese food, so I stock things for making Chinese food. (Items I stock include) Soy sauce, sesame oil, chili oil, white pepper, black vinegar, fermented black beans, oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, 5 spice powder, peanut oil, and dried shiitake mushrooms[…} Pantry stocking is like a capital-heavy part of starting a business!” Jenny Dorsey, professional chef and culinary strategist
7. Put some joy into it
Ever hear the term “food is love?” If cooking coq au vin seems clinical to you, maybe making grilled cheese the way your dad taught you will give you all the warm fuzzies and help you stay in the kitchen for more than one meal.
“Start with learning how to make your favorite meal. That way it will be a joy to try and try again. I love combing through my great grandmother’s recipes and finding family recipes to recreate. I feel like she is cooking with me.” Leslie Durso, vegan chef and food host
BONUS: When the office snacks run out and things get desperate
Read more: http://mashable.com/