Thursday, November 4, 2010

A couple of Quick Tips

Mise en place
Today I thought I would talk about Mise en place, this is a French term which literally translates to “put in place”:  The preparation and assembly of ingredients, pans, utensils, and plates or serving pieces needed for a particular dish or service period. Now I am sure many of you are already familiar with this term and use the practice every time you cook, as I’m sure many of you use the practice but may be unfamiliar with the term.
Way back when I was attending my first class at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, we were in class for five minutes when the Chef used and explained this term. Followed immediately by and I quote here “clean as you go”. I believe these two guidelines are critical in any kitchen - this is their religion! If you employ these every time you cook your endeavors will be successful 9 out of 10 times… Some things can’t be helped. I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes, but have learned from each mistake made.
 Mise en place, when Chefs, line cooks, myself and you cook - they (we) use this practice. Everything is ready to go. Chopped, sliced, and diced, whatever – before you start the cooking process. At the restaurants I have worked at, come 5 o’clock everything is done and clean. There is no more prep to be done, no dishes to be washed, we are ready for service. This ensures there is no scrambling around to find and chop that last vegetable or herb, or wash those sauté pans you need. This is a great way to reduce the stress level… And let’s face it, hosting a dinner party is stressful enough, and in my experience this practice has always made for an easier dinner rush at any restaurant.

“Clean as you go”. I’m pretty sure no one enjoys a huge pile of pots & pans needing to be washed at the end of your fabulous dinner party. The only things you should have to deal with are the serving plates, stem and silverware. Of course this only happens after everyone has enjoyed their after dinner drinks, desserts, and have gone home for the evening. In my humble opinion this is the very reason more people don’t cook. They are always left with a huge mess at the end of the night, from the first pan they used at 1 o’clock when they started cooking, to the last piece of stemware or dessert plate all splattered about out on the kitchen counters. If you clean every piece of cooking equipment, pots, pans, utensils or anything else you use, and put it away when you are finished with it, the end of your evening will at the very least be tolerable if not enjoyable.    


  1. Paul, thanks for sharing the helpful kitchen tips. I find 'clean as you go' is a rather practical practice, especially if you don't have a spacious kitchen.

  2. Great tips. These are also the first things I learned in culinary school and it really changed the way I cook. I'm now much more efficient in the kitchen, and my husband certainly appreciates not having to clean up after me.

  3. Well said. It's one of the hallmarks of a PROFESSIONAL. A nice benefit is that you are automatically avoiding the dangers of cross contamination when you assiduously follow these practices.

  4. Well I too have a small kitchen, not like the big beautiful I have had the pleasure working at. And i find all you comments to be very true. Less mess, less cross contamination, as well as a very efficient kitchen. I love being able to just relax with friends and family after the party, and I can't do that knowing that there is a mess in the kitchen. I just don't enjoy that after dinner drink as much;-(

  5. Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  6. good post! :) and a topic that many aspiring bakers/cooks tend to breeze past!My friends are always commenting..."How IS your kitchen always so neat and orderly when you bake and cook 24/7!?" Thankfully I had an amazing baker as a Mom who drilled into me "clean as you go!" Not everyone is so privileged.
    I think you explained Mise en place just perfectly. Thanks for sharing
    cathy b. @ brightbakes

  7. Cathy I seem to see this a lot lately, family and friend not doing either. And I can see the building frustration in their faces, as they are struggling to get dinner finished. I live by these rules and they are invaluable.
    Thanks for reading and commenting.