This is a stub post of sorts for a series of lessons I am preparing for my children on kitchen skills.
Welcome to my kitchen: What says “home” better than a well run kitchen? I suppose there is a bit of irony in the fact that most of what I learned about kitchen management I actually learned in commercial kitchens, but I suppose that is a sign of the times I grew up in. There is so much that goes into creating a efficient, well run kitchen – but the reality is that if you wish to eat well and save money you have to cook and cooking is much easier, safer and more enjoyable in a well run kitchen.
If you were to step into a commercial kitchen you would see more or less exactly what you see in the home kitchen only on a larger scale. The commercial kitchen will have stations where particular activities take place, hand washing, dish washing, cooking, prep stations, storage: dry, refrigerated and frozen, trash disposal. Additionally every activity from selecting the menu to cleaning up at the end of the day is carefully planned, this is the workflow. The home kitchen also has these elements, though they may be a little more difficult to identify. There will be work stations, but they often do double or triple duty. Your kitchen sink is your handwash station and your prep-cleaning station and your dishwashing station. The same counter that you do prep-cutting on will be used for baking. Your workflow will be different, but it should be planned.
Now I don’t pretend that this is the only way to run a kitchen. Kitchens are rather personal things, but there are some universal basics and many more hints, tips and tricks that you can pick up. So let’s start with the basics.
Safety: Before you start there are some safety basics to know. Safety really does come first.
Clothing | Hot Things | Sharp things | Slips and Spills
Cleanliness and sanitation:
Pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen? No: safety first when it comes to cooking.
Shoes: You should wear closed toe, sensible, non-skid shoes. If you are working with hot oil I recommend wearing non-porous shoes. There is almost nothing that hurts quite as badly as a grease spill that lands on your foot. Even a drop of hot oil on a sandal shod foot can be painful for days. Dropped knives or cutlery, boiling water all spell disaster on bare feet or feet inadequately protected by open toe shoes or sandals. Avoid high heals or shoes with substandard arch support – if you are on your feet a lot cooking and then cleaning you will want supportive foot wear. Non-skid soles will help keep you from slipping, which in a kitchen with a hot stove could go from embarrassing to disastrous in an instant.
Shirts and blouses: Shirts should be cuffed at the wrist and somewhat trim fitting. If you are wearing a loose fitting long sleeve you should consider wearing sleeve garters or a chef’s jacket. Likewise if you are working with heat you might want to seriously consider a chef’s jacket over short sleeves.
Chef’s Jackets and Aprons: A chef jacket or apron will protect your clothing from spills, flour dust, water, oil and all those little kitchen “incidences”. Chef’s jackets can be purchased from uniform supply stores and some kitchen supply stores – you can also find them online. Aprons can be found nearly everywhere and come in a wide range of designs and colors. Pick something sensible. You can find many really pretty aprons that are very serviceable, but you can find many more that, while super cute, are just not cut our for kitchen work. Aprons come in a variety of styles, look for a butcher, cook, or chef bib style apron. Bistro aprons are designed to be worn with chef’s jackets and those cute little hostess aprons are worn to serve not to cook. Go for a sturdy, comfortable and washable fabric such as cotton twill.
Legs: Be extra careful if you are wearing shorts or a skirt in the kitchen. Hot liquid spills are the biggest concern. A long apron can help save your legs.
Hair: If you have long hair pull it back; if it is really long wear it up. While it is unlikely, it has happened that hair has been caught in mixers and blenders and set ablaze by gas burners. Be safe.
Kitchen Skills is a serries I am working on for my children.