When a food blogger has 2,012,906, hundreds of awesome video tutorials and is followed by Gordon Ramsay on Twitter, you know they are legit — and that’s exactly where Chef John of Food Wishes is sitting right now.
Not only is he a social media star, Chef John used to be an instructor at the California Culinary Academy. One would think his pro background would make him a little stiff and regimented, but on the contrary, Chef John loves to dazzle with his DIYs while making us home cooks feel comfortable making fancy gourmet food. It feels kinda like cooking at home with your grammie.
He’s funny and engaging (with an amazing voice) without all that weaving a story BS they do on the Food Network (he edits that crap out). In short, you need to follow Chef John, and these are but a handful of the amazing tips that prove it.
1. Massage your meat until it feels awkward
When you’re marinating meat using a zip-top bag, really work it in there. You should feel uncomfortable if someone else is in the room.
2. Everyone needs power tools
A lot of people associate stick blenders with gourmet food, thinking they’re a specialty tool, but they’re great for making dressings, mayos and more.
3. Sometimes you really can just make and shake dressing (shh… don’t tell Ina Garten)
Some people (who shall remain nameless… *cough* every fancy-schmancy chef on TV) would love for you to believe that the key to a great vinaigrette is slowly drizzling in the oil while you whisk your little arm off. Chef John prefers to shake it up. As he says in other videos, “shake-uh, shake-uh.”
4. It’s OK if your potatoes are dirty
Since you have to rinse them later to get the starch off, anyway, just peel them and rinse them afterward. I apply this to carrots, parsnips and other root veggies, too.
The next video is so good, it has four tips on potatoes. Let the knowledge wash over you.
5. Raw potatoes don’t like it hot
Chef John recommends boiling mashing potatoes starting from cold water. Alton Brown agrees. So it is written.
6. The best mashed potatoes have a pornographic amount of butter
Chef John prefers European, though I’ve had success in the good ol’ U.S. of A. (Now feels like a good time to reassure you I really mean butter… ) Either way, he recommends a full pound of butter (4 sticks) for every three or four russets. Good news is, you only need a splash of milk and no heavy cream.
7. Wire coat hangers may suck, but wire potato mashers are the bomb — accept no substitutes
He’s right. The wavy branding-iron-style mashers are superior. More mashing surface area with tiny holes actually seems to be counter-productive regardless of your desired potato texture. How many years did I waste with that stupid plastic thing?!
8. You are the Lord of the Rings
Chef John has an easy-to-follow recipe associated with every video he does, but he’s the first to admit you can just use your personal judgment when you need to. Apparently, he’s not opposed to cutesy veggie edibles, either. On behalf of all the adorable food artists on SheKnows, kudos for his use of the business end of a green onion as a veggie hotrod driver with punk hair.
9. Pan sauces are sexy
Admittedly, I chose this video because I’m from Texas and chipotle and green onion sauce is the closest I’ll ever have to a Tex-Mex kindred-ship with Chef John, but he’s a huge fan of pan sauces and always encourages their use — even when he’s cooking fancy French stuff. Either way, he never fails to make them seem easy, sexy and delish.
10. He ain’t afraid to step on Grandma’s dainty toes
He’s a cook, not a pastry chef, but that didn’t stop him from learning to make pie crust. He learned “the amounts are critical” part about baking at culinary school. That’s the one thing every trained chef does know about baking (see any chef on Food Network or the Cooking Channel for more details). But he uses the home-cook favorite method of mixing in a food processor.
Oh, Chef John… If my grandmother could see you now, she’d say “jumpin’ Jehosaphat and little green grasshoppers.” I’m not entirely certain what that means, and she never could explain it, but we were both pretty convinced anything that entertaining has to be good.
Originally published December 2014. Updated August 2017.