The French Secret to Faster,
Smarter Everyday Cooking
Settling down with a bowl of popcorn, I switched the television on to the Food Channel. Have you ever noticed how fast they cook? They make it look so easy! Some shows are even organized by how long it takes to cook the recipe (30 minute meals!). It doesn’t take long after watching a show that I find a recipe that just looks too easy and fast and, hey, I have all the ingredients!
I get into the kitchen with new vigor and start and 45 minutes into into 30-minute recipe promise, my vim and vigor is gone and I struggle to get it all timed right to get it in the oven.
So what does that on-screen personality have that I just can’t figure out in my home kitchen?
Mis en place.
Everything in its place, is the rough translation from French.
Let’s look again at those perfect TV chefs — they stand there smiling at you with all the ingredients out (or in easy reach) and even sometimes all the measured ingredients in prep bowls.
If you were trying this at home, this is how you’d execute an effective mis en place (pronounced meez-own-plauce in French):
1. First, raid your pantry and fridge to locate all the ingredients.
2. Once they are out on the counter, you can measure out the ingredients in prep bowls or cups or whatever you have.
3. Then look at what needs to be chopped or diced, or anything that a sous chef would do.
4. Once that’s complete, start the recipe and watch it easily get done! And no more missing ingredients either!
But that’s only the beginning.
According to The New Professional Chef:
…mise en place means far more than simply assembling all the ingredients, pots and pans, plates, and 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 period.
Mis en place will make cooking more pleasurable, and you’ll get better results!