Cooking Secrets

13 Things TV Chefs Won’t Tell You by Michelle Crouch

(January 2013 Reader’s Digest)

I was reading this article in Reader’s Digest last month & thought it is  worth sharing with everyone.
See if you can relate.
1) Many TV chefs don’t write or develop their own recipes. Some don’t have time. Others are more focused on being on TV than on cooking, so they would rather pay someone else. And a few just don’t know how.

*My Take : With two kids around, it’s difficult to come up with new posts daily. If I‘ve time I love to develop a new recipe but with so many good recipes available online, it’s ok to play with those recipes too. I do feel bad when I’m not updating my blog regularly but I can’t be everywhere.  
2) If you want the food you make to look as pretty as mine, don’t fill the plate. Putting something small on a bigger plate always looks better, especially if you stack the foods or lay them against one another.

*My Take: Food styling is what I love THE most. It is the presentation which makes food taste better at restaurants. I don’t miss any opportunity to present the food in unique ways !
3) When a chef forgets to say something important, we have to do what’s called a voice-over. That’s when you’re watching and all of a sudden, you don’t see the chef’s face. Instead, you see a close-up of the bowl or their hands and you hear them saying, “Now add a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon.” With the best talent, you’ll almost never hear a voice-over.

*My Take: I don’t post videos , so not much of a problem. And if I miss an important step I can always edit my post.
4) Obviously, we’re not all going to sit around twiddling our thumbs waiting for a roast or a lasagna to cook. So there are people in a second kitchen behind the scenes cooking a bunch of versions of the same recipe so it will be ready to go at different stages. That’s called a swap-out.

*My Take: I’m all by myself while I’m cooking. Wish I had a second kitchen or people cleaning up for me.
5) Sometimes, the dishes we taste on camera are stone cold because of a swap-out. So we may be saying, “Mmm,” but really it tastes awful. We just smile and stomach it.

*My Take: Food definitely tastes better when warm !
6) Sure, we burn things. When that happens, we just make sure to pick it up with the charred side away from the camera, and we never flip it over.

*My Take: This is good to know because we all make mistakes.
7) Sorry, but we are not going to tell you how bad a recipe if for you. While more chefs are acknowledging that we have a responsibility to people’s health, you’re never going to see calorie counts when we’re making chocolate cake.

*My Take: One of the reasons why I started blogging was to compile the ‘healthier’ recipes at one place & at the same time show it to all those who believe  “ Healthy can’t be tasty ‘ !  I feel proud when my family tells me how they loved a particular dish. At the same time it’s alright to indulge every once in a while.
8) Here’s how to enhance just about any dish: Add some acidity. Whether from fresh citrus juice or vinegar, acidity wakes up the palate and makes food jump and pop.

*My Take: That’s how raw fruits and veggies come handy.
9) Before I host a cooking segment, I go through every step of the recipe with the art director, prop stylist, and food stylist. They ensure I have every tool I need, they mise en place (prepare and measure out) every ingredient, and they make the finished dish look gorgeous. So keep in mind that it will take you a lot longer to follow this recipe at home-and it probably won’t look quite as perfect.

*My Take : As I mentioned above, I’m all by myself while cooking. But I do go over the draft many times before publishing it.
10) Please don’t follow my recipes to the letter. A recipe should be a loose map to guide you, but since no two ingredients are exactly the same, you should be constantly tasting the dish and adapting as you go along.

*My Take: True!  That’s why my blog posts have  ‘Future Possibilities / Variations’ section too.
11) When I say something should be brown, I mean brown-not tan. Whether searing a piece of fish or baking bread, home cooks generally under-bake food. Really yummy, magical things happen when food turns brown.

*My Take: That is an important step especially when I’m sautéing onions or while baking. Burnt food is a waste of time ; food loses nutrients when overcooked.
12) A garnish can make anything look better. Go ahead and throw some chopped fresh greens or herbs on top. They smell nice, create a beautiful contrast in color, and give the whole plate a little zing.

*My Take: I prefer using fresh herbs for that.
 13)  In the restaurant, I cook in a very methodical way; I use something, and then I clean it right away. But in competitions like Hell’s Kitchen or MasterChef, the kitchens get destroyed. Afterward, there are dozens and dozens of dishes, anchovies on the floor, mayonnaise is splattered all over the wall, and you can still hear the stove clicking because someone left the gas on.

*My Take: My husband can tell right away when I’ve posted some recipe on my blog. The kitchen clutter tells him everything !
So, if you’ve watched a TV chef prepare something that looks fabulous and effortless and then it doesn’t seem to work as easily for you, this is why!

One Comment

  1. Nice and entertaining read!

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