Executive Chef Mark Beaupre of JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes was kind enough to share with us his top 10 tips for home chefs.
1. Buy produce from farmers markets or farmers directly as much as possible for freshness and all natural and organic reasons.
2. Use sea salt instead of iodized salt. Kosher salt works as well, but iodized salt takes longer to dissolve and affect the food's flavor, plus sea salt has a much more refined flavor and mineral benefits.
3. Invest in bone china. It is amazing what a nice table set can do for your meals. Stay away from plates with colors and decorated rims. Plain and simple is the best to let your food show through.
4. Check out cooking classes. Many local schools offer continuing educational courses.
5. Taste often. This will help you proper seasoning of food and understanding depth of flavor. Know what your spices do after being cooked vs. their raw flavors.
6. Establish relationships with your local purveyors. If you can, befriend your local butcher, grocer, fish and/or cheese monger, etc. when applicable.
7. Make fresh stocks. This is another way your local butcher's friendship can come in handy. Get bones and make fresh stock for your soups, sauces and gravies.
8. Note the importance of kitchen ergonomics. Layout of your spices, utensils, storage, and work space. Make sure pots, pans, dishes are within reach, spices are right at stove side, plenty of clean dishrags handy for spills and splatters, and that table is set BEFORE you start cooking so you're not scrambling at the last minute, etc.
9. Cook according to the seasons. Don't make a peach cobbler in the winter! You can certainly find peaches in the winter but they are usually not good. Food tastes better when it is in season.
10. Use cook books often, all chefs do! There are some great cook books out there, in particular "Culinary Artistry" by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. This book emphasizes cooking with the seasons as well as simplicity. It has great recipes as well as diagrams for the seasonality of products and great flavor combinations that are easy to comprehend.
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