You love to cook but you’re not by any means a gourmet chef? Well all is not lost. All you really need to do is have a small set of recipes that you have mastered. Even top gourmet chefs have their favorites that they go to in a clutch. The only difference from those gourmet chefs and you is that your list of recipes might only be a few, while there’s may number in the hundreds. They have a vast experience, but you will only have to perfect a few to attain that gourmet status amongst your friends.
Follow the instructions
A good recipe is basically a set of instructions. The more skilled you get at cooking, the less you have to follow the exact recipe. In the beginning it’s probably a good idea to stick to the recipe as it is printed. Having said that, a lot of recipes that people post online, that they have done themselves, often have missing components. Things that they do naturally without thought from experience, but forget to write down. So if you are going to follow a recipe, make sure it’s a professional one that is tried and true.
Presentation is everything
As much as it doesn’t seem much like gourmet, presentation is everything. You can take the same recipe, and slap it on a paper plate with no garnishing and it will look like something the cat dragged in. Compared to putting it on a large pristine plate and adding some colorful garnish. Even dribbling a few green bits on the top and center can make the look completely different. More often than not, if it looks good then people expect it to taste good, and in many ways it will.
YouTube is a great place to learn how to cook. It’s one step up from recipes in that you can actually watch them do it and get advice as they go. They often still miss steps, but it’s a little bit harder when they’re filming everything they do. So browse around YouTube and see what might be interesting. A good search is something like “simple gourmet cooking”
Don’t get overly complicated
Keep it simple. Especially if you’re in the early stages of your journey as a chef, keep what you do simple. Gourmet does not mean 20 different ingredients with 50 different steps to prepare. Our go-to meal in the old days was basically chicken submerged in salad dressing and baked in the oven. By the time it came out, nobody had any clue that it was salad dressing and we would always get rave reviews. You can’t get much simpler than that.
The best ingredients
As much as it might sound obvious, the fresher the better for most things. If you buy cheap ingredients, then the quality of the food is not going to be good, no matter how well you prepare it. That is one of the big secrets of the top chefs, to use the best ingredients they can find. It’s not that hard to do so just take a page out of their notebook and do the same.
The devil is in the details
What we mean by this is don’t skim. You’re going to go through the steps one by one. Unless you have the experience to know that it’s going to work, don’t think you can skip some steps that seem silly. If something says brown it in the pan before you cook it, then brown it in the pan because there is a reason they’re telling you to do that. In the early days of becoming a chef you have to become extremely detail oriented. There are no shortcuts. So just get used to making sure you do everything the right way and it will all work out fine.
You are going to need some decent equipment. Some good pots and pans, and some other utensils if you’re going to make a go of it. We swear by having a cast iron frying pan that we have taken with us from house to house for many years. There is nothing better in our opinion and it’s definitely one of the pieces of equipment you should buy. As they say, the right tool for the right job. You don’t have to get carried away by buying everything, but you will find that when you have the right things it makes life much easier to cook the right way.
Buy a good knife
We can’t emphasize this enough, get yourself a good knife. It will last you for a very long time and is the number one tool you need if you’re going to be any sort of gourmet. Be prepared to have sticker shock if you’re going to buy a good knife though, they don’t come cheap, but they are worth every penny. The main knife you will need is often called a chef’s knife, and it is the most important knife to have. It has a wide blade and is generally about 10 inches long. You want one of thick metal that has a heavy heft to it as well.
The thing to remember is once you start on the path for becoming a gourmet, you’ll find you enjoy it. You may start out with one or two simple meals that you can create to impress everyone, but then you will keep adding to that list of meals. Eventually you might have hundreds yourself and be able to improvise on the fly. You will transition from being someone that can barely cook an omelette to someone that can make a kitchen dance and you won’t even realize it. Over the years it will just happen. But you have to start somewhere, so start simple. Once you start getting those compliments on that magnificent gourmet meal that you prepared, even if it’s the only one you know how to create, you will crave more of that attention and it will burn a fire in you that will turn you into a gourmet. Happy cooking.