It must be difficult for professional chefsto watch amateurs in the home kitchen, seeing the kinds of mistakes being made that they’d be absolutely hammered for at work. With that in mind, it's worth checking out this thread over on the question and answer site Quora, on this very subject. The question posed is “From a professional chef's viewpoint, what are the main mistakes made by amateur cooks?” The answers from professional chefs and food bloggers do not dissapoint. Here are 12 things professional chefs can’t stand seeing from the amateur cook.
Clean as you go. Always. A clean kitchen isn't just a nice to have, and it's not just for food safety. It's what makes your work more enjoyable and gets better results – Jonas Mikka Luster
When you are done working, your kitchen should be cleaner than when you started – Noam Ben-Ami
2. Not planning ahead
I think the biggest mistake amateur cooks make is that they don't read through the recipe, rehearse, and plan out the cooking strategy ahead of time. To me, that's the most important ingredient for success – Lisa Goldfinger
3. Not following the recipe
Substituting random ingredients, especially in baking. Yes, butter means butter not margarine or crisco or vegetable oil. Yes, cream means cream not skim milk. No, you can't substitute powdered Jello for gelatine – Sarah Geer.
4. Using blunt knives
Learn to use a sharp knife, the sharpening stone, and let the knife do the work – Richard Lee.
5. Not tasting
Taste, taste, taste and season accordingly, because flavours change every minute – Carolina Garofani
Under-seasoning everything. Don't be afraid of the salt – Jay Racavich
Salt with your fingers to get a sense of how much salt you are using, salt from about two feet above the food to get it evenly salted if you aren’t going to sauté/toss it – Noam Ben-Ami
This one kills me. The flavour of meat is in its juices – Noam Ben-Ami
8. Heat control
Poor heat control is one of the hallmarks of the unskilled amateur – John Thompson
Home cooks believe their stoves have two temperatures: off and max. It's maddening – Nigel Lucas
9. Low quality ingredients
You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but don’t buy ingredients from mega-corporations if you can afford it – Noam Ben-Ami
Fine if you just plain can't afford it and are trying to make nourishing food for your family. But don't tell me what an awesome cook you are and how I should make your recipe for my clients, then present me with a dish composed of overcooked off-brand pasta, canned mushrooms, off-season tomatoes, old and dried parsley, and really gross cheap olive oil – Sarah Greer
10. Using too much or little fat
When cooking food you don't plan to brown, just enough to coat the pan. When trying to deeply caramelise food, especially meat, get a good amount of fat in the pan, watch it so it doesn't smoke, and then rest the meat on a rack so the excess fat can drain – Noam Ben-Ami
11. Not cooking pasta correctly
Please, cook pasta al-dente. Taste it and when it just hits that stage, get it off the heat. Remember, as well, that your pasta will keep cooking for a little while – Noam Ben-Ami
12. Cooking with extra virgin olive oil
Use regular olive oil or other fats when applying heat. Leave EVOO for finishing plates, as a very simple dressing – Noam Ben-Ami
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