Instruction for the non-professional

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108
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Joined Apr 18, 2016
I would love to take a course that would teach me the basics not just of cooking, but the whole process of running a kitchen: organization, sanitation, smart purchasing... I googled, but I don't really know what I'm looking for.

Online instruction or a book would be great. I'm getting to be not terrible at cooking, so it's more the other stuff. I have allergies, so I have to cook if I want to eat safely. I'm interested in learning how professionals operate in order to be more efficient and make daily cooking(, cleaning, shopping, storing, and more cleaning) easier. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
 

phatch

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Joined Mar 29, 2002
These are the books I think were the most educational for me. The Test Kitchen book is one I picked up to try out on my kids and liked it.
  • Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson- I think this is the best book about skills and starting technique.
  • The America's Test Kitchen Cooking School-also well focused on the basics with more explanation of why
  • The Chefs Art by Wayne Gisslen-more advanced material and artistry
  • The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer an excellent baseline for most everything.

All of these contain shopping info and sanitation. Lots of it is dispersed to particular ingredient topics and not so much it's own topic.

Rick Bayless gave my favorite shopping directions in the introduction to Mexican Everyday. Praphrasing and condensing it was something like this:

Shop around the edges of the store. This is where the fresh fruits and vegetables are, your eggs, dairy, baked goods. Forays into the aisles are for bulk goods, rice, dry beans, flour and so on. Otherwise aisles are expensive convenience food and not as nutritious.

As to running your home kitchen, I learned the most from a college oriented cookbook but I've never figured out which one it was again. Healthy College Cooking is well reviewed but I don't know if that was it.
 
954
559
Joined Mar 1, 2017
I would love to take a course that would teach me the basics not just of cooking, but the whole process of running a kitchen: organization, sanitation, smart purchasing... I googled, but I don't really know what I'm looking for.

Online instruction or a book would be great. I'm getting to be not terrible at cooking, so it's more the other stuff. I have allergies, so I have to cook if I want to eat safely. I'm interested in learning how professionals operate in order to be more efficient and make daily cooking(, cleaning, shopping, storing, and more cleaning) easier. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
Perhaps a part time job in a commercial kitchen for a bit might be the ticket?
 
3,616
568
Joined Dec 18, 2010
... another good reference book: Jacque Pepin’s Complete Techniques.

But a single “how to run a restaurant kitchen” or even “how to operate a home kitchen “... either book or course... I’m drawing a blank.

Perhaps if you peruse Jacob Burton’s Stella Culinary, on the web and YouTube, you’ll find a lot of what your looking for.
 
3,616
568
Joined Dec 18, 2010
I must comment on your allergy. Whatever it is that you are plagued by... have none of it in your kitchen... or your home. My son is peanut allergic and I quite like them. I had a jar of peanut butter in the cabinet. He knew about it and called it “poison”... and then one day he decided it would be funny to put a skull-and-crossbones label but just touching the probably contaminated jar was enough for us to rush him to the ER. Don’t take any chances with legitimate allergies!
 
108
50
Joined Apr 18, 2016
I must comment on your allergy. Whatever it is that you are plagued by... have none of it in your kitchen... or your home. My son is peanut allergic and I quite like them. I had a jar of peanut butter in the cabinet. He knew about it and called it “poison”... and then one day he decided it would be funny to put a skull-and-crossbones label but just touching the probably contaminated jar was enough for us to rush him to the ER. Don’t take any chances with legitimate allergies!
Forum needs an unlike button! :(

For the last few years I've lived with my (not at the time) ex, and he brought wheat in the house so often that even if I didn't consume any, I was constantly affected by it. I'm sorry that happened to your son, but I'm glad he's okay.
 
434
195
Joined Oct 1, 2006
Hi ritt,

I'm glad you appreciate sanitation!

A more focused question would be helpful for providing more specific responses. Maybe prioritize what you want to learn first or what is the area or topic you view as a weakness?

Knife skills are always useful regardless of which ingredients/components you are working with.
Ingredient knowledge and cooking techniques will also serve you well.

For an overview of what chef's do, try what sgsyvirgil suggested, find a way to work/volunteer in a commercial kitchen.

Good luck!
 
108
50
Joined Apr 18, 2016
These are the books I think were the most educational for me. The Test Kitchen book is one I picked up to try out on my kids and liked it.
  • Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson- I think this is the best book about skills and starting technique.
  • The America's Test Kitchen Cooking School-also well focused on the basics with more explanation of why
  • The Chefs Art by Wayne Gisslen-more advanced material and artistry
  • The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer an excellent baseline for most everything.

All of these contain shopping info and sanitation. Lots of it is dispersed to particular ingredient topics and not so much it's own topic.

Rick Bayless gave my favorite shopping directions in the introduction to Mexican Everyday. Praphrasing and condensing it was something like this:

Shop around the edges of the store. This is where the fresh fruits and vegetables are, your eggs, dairy, baked goods. Forays into the aisles are for bulk goods, rice, dry beans, flour and so on. Otherwise aisles are expensive convenience food and not as nutritious.

As to running your home kitchen, I learned the most from a college oriented cookbook but I've never figured out which one it was again. Healthy College Cooking is well reviewed but I don't know if that was it.
I've only read through the "start here" of the Stella, but that looks like a great site to developed my technique. I'm sure I have a TON of bad habits to break. I may spend the evening watching their stuff. Thanks!!

I have the Bayless book as a sample on my kindle account. Haven't gotten into it yet. I'll have to check out the Peterson book too.

Perhaps a part time job in a commercial kitchen for a bit might be the ticket?
I have seriously considered that. I think the allergy would make me a slightly distracted line cook because I'd be worried (or sick!), but I would absolutely love to learn to tend bar.
 
109
75
Joined Apr 11, 2018
I don't know where you're located but around here the county requires there be at least one person with a Food Manager Certification on-site at food service establishments during all hours of operation. That certification is given by the county, a few days of classes. Typically kitchen managers and store managers take it but anybody with the available time and the fee price can attend.

It's not a one-stop answer to your questions but it will provide a level of expertise on safe food handling, storage, sanitation, times and temps, spoilage, etc.

It will also result in a period of extreme mistrust every time you walk into a restaurant or grocery store, having your eyes opened to all the things that could go wrong...
 
108
50
Joined Apr 18, 2016
I don't know where you're located but around here the county requires there be at least one person with a Food Manager Certification on-site at food service establishments during all hours of operation. That certification is given by the county, a few days of classes. Typically kitchen managers and store managers take it but anybody with the available time and the fee price can attend.

It's not a one-stop answer to your questions but it will provide a level of expertise on safe food handling, storage, sanitation, times and temps, spoilage, etc.

It will also result in a period of extreme mistrust every time you walk into a restaurant or grocery store, having your eyes opened to all the things that could go wrong...
Yeeee!!! That's a great idea! I already have the ability to walk into a grocery store and find at least one rotten thing...

Could be resume leverage too. I'll have to look out for something like that. I'm sure I can find something in Seattle.
 
109
75
Joined Apr 11, 2018
Yeeee!!! That's a great idea! I already have the ability to walk into a grocery store and find at least one rotten thing...

Could be resume leverage too. I'll have to look out for something like that. I'm sure I can find something in Seattle.
Google didn't find me a 1:1 version in Seattle that's like here in Texas but there's something similar. This link might be a good starting point:
https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/environmental-health/food-safety.aspx
 
108
50
Joined Apr 18, 2016
Hi ritt,

I'm glad you appreciate sanitation!

A more focused question would be helpful for providing more specific responses. Maybe prioritize what you want to learn first or what is the area or topic you view as a weakness?

Knife skills are always useful regardless of which ingredients/components you are working with.
Ingredient knowledge and cooking techniques will also serve you well.

For an overview of what chef's do, try what sgsyvirgil suggested, find a way to work/volunteer in a commercial kitchen.

Good luck!
Somehow I missed this one! I have seen some nasty things... Everyone should appreciate sanitation!

I know what I'm lacking most is the foundation organization and maintenance schedule. I can cook a meal okay, but whenever I get burnt out, it's usually because the other, less fun, work has built up. Then I go out for poke and the soy/wheat sauce kills my guts. So I've got really strong reasons for wanting to learn! I just need the material and/or experience to learn from.

If I had to list skills by priority, it would be:
1. Food safety, organization, and storage: get the groceries home, put them in the best location, using the most appropriate and accessible containers.
2. Sanitation and maintenance: build good habits to ensure food and tools are kept clean during and after cooking, a realistic cleaning schedule.
3. Back to the fun stuff! Learn to maintain my knives, correct some bad habits (half assing the mise en plase), experiment with gluten free ingredients and techniques...

I'm surprised I haven't been able to find a good how to for #1. Maybe I'm just confused by all the items marketed to home cooks and bloggers. I would love to just walk around and take some pictures in a reputable pro kitchen. Maybe I need to binge watch Kitchen Nightmares...

Edit: Tried out The Professional Chef by the Culinary Institute of America. It had a few useful bits on storage and temps, but no real detail. It's very vague, which I understand. Cooking is a style thing, and not all chefs go to school.
 
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108
50
Joined Apr 18, 2016
Google didn't find me a 1:1 version in Seattle that's like here in Texas but there's something similar. This link might be a good starting point:
https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/environmental-health/food-safety.aspx
Cool! It appears these classes are organized through the businesses, which is what I'm used to seeing. Maybe I'll just email and see how much it costs.

I do think I'm going to download and print the food safety fact sheets. Having lived in GA for a time, I've had my fair share of boil orders. 0___0
 
5
0
Joined Apr 15, 2019
I had a jar of peanut butter in the cabinet. He knew about it and called it “poison”... and then one day he decided it would be funny to put a skull-and-crossbones label
 
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