The Value Of Mise En Place

food-i-loveIn what seems a life time ago, I spent almost a decade working in kitchens, starting my working life helping out my mum in her catering business, before moving on to work in other kitchens making sandwiches, waitressing, dish washing and eventually getting into chef whites and preparing meals for people by the 100’s.  During this time I learnt a lot of lessons that have helped me in and out if the kitchen including the true meaning of hard work, the value of teamwork and most of all the importance of good preparation.   The executive chef in one establishment would impress upon us repeatedly the importance of the 6 P’s. “Proper preparation prevents a piss poor performance”. Never were truer words spoken. When we were prepared and had completed our food prep well our services would run smoothly, if we did not, well that is when there is food delays, meals not available on the menu and more often than not stress levels through the roof which did not make for a nice work environment.

Whilst I no longer work in commercial kitchens, that lesson stays with me until this day in and out of the kitchen. I know I am more likely to get longevity out of my fresh green groceries if I take the time to clean and store them correctly when I first bring them home. I know that it is imperative to get all your ingredients ready before starting to cook a dish so that your timing will be right and you give yourself the right opportunity to create the best meal possible (plus you don’t get half way through and realise your missing key ingredients).

Perry takes the time to talk about the importance of this philosophy in his book and I thought it was something worthy if sharing and talking about. In particular if you are going to be entertaining, to ensure that your dishes will be ready at the same time, that your meat has time to be rested, and to minimise the stress levels in your kitchen.

As he suggests even in the home, don’t be afraid to sit and write a prep list, including timing if needed. It is one of the tried and true steps that every chef/cook worth their salt will do when they are creating a meal with more than one simple dish. Plus if you are working in your kitchen with someone else it helps each person to know who is responsible for what to bring a meal together.

After all as Perry so eloquently puts it ” organisation is the key to all good cooking ” and it ensures that you’re more likely to have a good time doing it for other people.

Do you write a list when you are preparing to entertain and cook for friends? Or do you wing it? What other tips do you think are essential to share when working in a kitchen?

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