Think of the most delicious meal you’ve eaten this week. Who cooked it? Have you ever eaten at a restaurant and wondered to yourself, how the heck did they make that? Well it all starts with a handful of basic cooking and food handling guidelines that every good chef knows to follow. And it’s only after you’ve mastered them that you’ll be equipped to break them with style.
1. Prep: A great chef is an organized chef. Foresight is rewarded with better results. If you know what you’re going to make a day in advance, you can pull everything together beforehand so that no time is wasted once the actual cooking takes place. That means buying all the food a day before; defrosting the meat; organizing your pots, pans, cutting boards and whatever other items you’ll be using; sharpening your knives; and generally consolidating your thoughts and plan of action into a list so that you don’t forget anything once it’s time to work.
2. To-do list: Be as meticulous as possible. That means being almost comically detailed in your steps. All of the intuitive things you think are second nature, such as pulling out the plates, or grating the cheese, should all be included, as this will help you to more effectively factor in the timing of each action. A seemingly simple meal can take up to 40 steps. But on the bright side, the more steps you have, the more steps you have to cross off, which always feels nice. With cooking, timing is everything. And especially for beginner food handlers, it’s important to be regimented before instincts can develop.
3. Baking: A good rule of thumb is to raise the temperature in accordance to how small the item you’re baking is. So if you’re going to bake cookies, you should raise up that temperature all the way up to 500 degree farenheit. If you want to bake a cake, you should take it down some notches.
4. Spice Storage: For your spices and herbs you want to keep them away from sunlight, as this can remove their flavor. Instead, it’s better to keep them stored in dark areas, preferably in a cool location.
5. Hands washing: Obviously you should wash your hands before and after handling any food. That’s especially so for meats, but also for vegetables. Here’s a trick for when your hands get smelly after cutting garlic. If you have a stainless steel sink, rub your hands against them for a little under a minute before washing them to make the odor disappear.
These are not all the answers to all of your food handling problems. But they’re a start. Learning the rest requires seeking professional training, which is available right here with Ken Kuscher, who is a certified ServSafe® instructor from Florida with over three and a half decades of experience as a food handler as well as an extensive background as an educator. For more information on how to register to get your food handler certificate, give him a call today at 561-703-7196.