One of the distinguishing features – in fact – items of honor – excellent professional kitchens – perfection. That’s why chefs wear white chefs; you can’t get away with a single spray. Often the loud mantra is “cook clean”, which means both literally clean and organized and uncluttered. When the ingredients, tools and equipment are clean and tidy, the recipe is much easier to follow.
Restaurant kitchens have the obvious advantage of special dishwashers, but home kitchens offer a space that is entirely yours. You can control how clean you keep everything.
I combined my professional cooking experience with my life in the home kitchen (and my type A instincts) to offer eight tips for cooking at home:
It’s hard to find a free place to cook when your physical space is a mess. Wash any lingering dishes; clean the sink, dishwasher and dishwasher rack; clean the counters, then wipe them with kitchen utensils; clean the hob when it has splashed.
Wash your hands all the time
I confess that I am an obsessive hand washer. I wash with soap and water before cooking and also during cooking and cooking when my hands are thick, sprinkled with flour or eat anything on them. You should too.
Tune in to clean mode
Remove a clean dry kitchen towel to remove crumbs (and use as a stand). Wet another towel with soap and water and squeeze out excess liquid. You will use this to remove sticky spills or splashes of grease. Some cooks love disinfectant wipes, but soap and water will handle, and a trip to the laundry is all that towels need to be clean and ready again.
There is a garbage plan
Place a kitchen trash can next to where you will be working, or if you have enough space, have a large bowl on hand in which you can put scraps and other items to throw away.
Clean as you cook
It’s tempting to throw everything in the sink to make later, but it will leave you with a shaky pile of dirt lurking above you as you try to focus on the recipe. Instead, throw out trash or compost or recycle leftovers (carrot peels) or trash (empty pasta box) while working and use those five minutes of stewing to get ahead of the dishes.
You don’t want raw meat to touch anything else. If possible, dedicate a cutting board to vegetables and one to meat. It’s okay if you don’t, just be sure to wash the boards thoroughly between uses. You can wear disposable gloves when cooking meat or seafood like I do, throwing them away after use.
Do not omit twice during the tasting
It is important to check the taste of food during cooking to make sure the condiments are correct, and to check readiness.
While it may seem romantic to sip the sauce from the spoon you stir, it’s also bad. If you cook for yourself, you can of course.
But if you’re cooking for someone else – even for a family – use a separate spoon, dip it only once and wash before trying again.
Rinse quickly before eating
All the dirt on freshly used bowls, pans and other cooking utensils is much easier to remove when they are still warm, so quickly spray it all before you sit down to eat. Otherwise you may find that in the future you will be very hard to clean.