Are you tired of surviving on frozen dinners and takeout? Maybe you know how to cook a few things but want to expand your repertoire, or perhaps you want a better understanding of the principles underlying great cooking so you can improve what you do in the kitchen. Whatever your goal, below are a few things you can do to ramp up your culinary expertise.
It’s not for the faint of heart, but if yours lies in restaurant kitchens, you might just want to cut to the chase and head to culinary school, the first step for many people on the road to becoming a chef. It’s a big commitment, but you can take out student loans to pay for it if necessary. If having multiple loans to repay afterward worries you, you might want to do some research into student loan consolidation. This can roll your debt into a single payment each month, which can be a relief if you’re spending most of your time in a busy kitchen.
At the other end of the scale is simply teaching yourself. Buy cookbooks, read blogs, and watch shows about chefs. Remember that newer isn’t always better. For classic French cuisine, you still can’t go wrong with Julia Child’s books. If instead your passion is Japanese or South African or Cajun or any other kind of food, you’ll find plenty of guidance out there. You can probably order any special ingredients you need online if you don’t have a supplier nearby. As is the case with any hobby, the more you delve into it, the more resources you will uncover and the better sense you will get of your own personality and philosophy regarding food preparation. It’s never been a better time to be a creative, committed home cook.
You would be surprised at what some people can turn out of tiny kitchens with just a few pots and pans, but if you can afford it, nice equipment can be a real boon to the home cook. A good iron skillet, a few sharp knives, or some sturdy pans could transform your food. Depending on your particular area of interest, you may want to consider investing in a pizza stone, a rice cooker, a wok, a tagine, or a quality stand mixer. You might want to hold off on picking up items that are particularly trendy, such as a sous vide cooker until you have a better idea of what you are aiming for in the kitchen. Eventually, if you’re feeling especially ambitious, you may want to consider replacing an electric stove with gas or building a pizza oven on your patio.
You can take cooking classes without committing to a culinary career. There may be local restaurants or private chefs in your area who offer classes. Although you may eventually want to plan a vacation around cooking classes for amateurs, these days, you aren’t limited by distance. Classes are increasingly offered online, and some of them involve mailing out a box of ingredients to you ahead of time.