Professional chefs have training, experience and hard-earned skills under their hats, while the average untrained home cook is working on intuition, cookbook instruction, what' they've absorbed from observation or simply winging it and hoping for the best.
Common mistakes are easier to make at home, after all, who's going to pull you up on your kitchen failings, unless you co-habit with a chef!
We've all made them, grabbed a burning hot pan with a wet dishcloth, mistaken the unlabelled sugar for salt and thrown the fries into cold oil.
With that in mind, here's a selection of advice from pro chefs for the amateur home cook from a thread over at reddit, the sort of mistakes that make a professional chef wince and the sort of mistakes we can all easily put right.
Crowding the pan. If you're frying, sauteing etc, there needs to be room for the moisture in the food to escape, otherwise, it just gets steamed and it won't brown.
Research, research, research
Not researching what they want to do. Tons of good books and videos out there, but people think they can just open a recipe on their phone and go.
Patience is a virtue
Not waiting long enough before flipping food (whether in a pan or on the grill). If it's still sticking,
You cannot cook something in half the time by doubling the heat. If something is supposed to take X amount of time to cook at Y degrees... that is the amount of time and heat it needs to be cooked all the way through. If you try to rush it you'll end up with food that's burned on the outside and raw on the inside it's not ready to flip.
Not figuring out why things taste good, and how to boost flavor and keeping it balanced. Salt is important, sure, but so is acidity/sourness, sweetness, bitterness, spice, umami/savory, as well as texture. A good dish is balanced, not just heavy in one flavor and texture.
Know your tools
Don’t use metal utensils on non-stick pans. At least, don’t use them with much force. You don’t want to scratch the pan.
Know your smoking point
Not letting oil get hot enough before frying something. The food soaks up the oil and totally ruins the taste of it isn’t hot enough. And conversely, having the oil too hot and burning the breading is common too.
Also, let the meat rest on the plate for a few minutes before carving it. Otherwise, all the juice is going to leak out into a puddle at the bottom of the plate.
Mis en Place
Don’t turn on any heat (except for perhaps preheating a grill or oven) until everything is chopped or otherwise prepared to go in. It might take a little more time to cook this way than flying by the seat of your pants trying to stir fry and chop the next ingredient at the same time, but you’re going to end up with more consistent and balanced cooking if you plan it out first.
Everything has an order
Order of operations: Not everything goes in the pan at the same time, and some things definitely don't go in first. If you're cooking potatoes and garlic together, the potatoes should basically be done by the time that garlic goes in unless you want utterly charred garlic with no flavor. The same goes for temperature. When you cook in a pan that is too cold, the starches and proteins in the food bond to the surface of the pan and become sticky regardless of whether or not you used some oil or butter. Wait for that thing to heat up to cooking temp first. To go along with this, when a pan is hot, you shouldn't suddenly cool it down by dumping dumping a whole bag of frozen peas in or pouring half a gallon of milk straight from the fridge.
Label your key ingredients
Mistaking salt for sugar or mixing up extracts.
Too hot to handle
If you don't have oven mitts, make sure you use a dry towel instead of a wet one.
cross-contamination. please use seperate cutting boards for raw meats and veggies, for the love of god.
Using glass, marble, slate or metal worktop savers as chopping boards. Those will screw up your knives. Only chop on wood or plastic. Using too much downward pressure with knives. Let the knife do the work, keep the pressure gentle and the knives sharp.