mise en place: what does it mean to you?

Joined Jun 9, 2001
ah, mise en place: everything in its place: the phrase we are all acustomed to. something that will make the night smooth or rough. but what does it really mean?

i am fairly new to the culinary seen with only 3 years under my chef hat. i was working at a nice place before going to culinary school and i rememebr when i was trying to grasp what mise en place really means. i would be working at my station and i would be in the weeds and my chef would come over, push me aside and lay both his hands flat on the cutting bored and raise them and put his hands in my face. he would say "you see this? all this stuff on my hands? this is what your brain looks like. clean all this up and you will work faster and better".

i must say, he was very wise. to me, mise en place means having everything in its place. having my stock on when i need it, having things cooking, being organized, knowing what takes the longest to cook and what i can do while things are on the stove. the word multitasking comes to mind when i hear mise en place.

i had a chance to work with another cia student on my extern and he would gather all his pots and pans that he needed but it was funny becasue it created clutter and he would be flustered when he was cooking. i think mise en place also means not to get everything you need but knowing where everything you need is.

i had the chance to work the saute station the other evening for my first time at the hotel and i must say, i got my *** kicked. not becasue i couldnt get the orders out but becasue the lack of knowing what i will need for that station. i was constantly runing down the stairs to get something while i was doing my prep. i hate that.

there is my two cents o nwhat mise en place means to me.
Joined Mar 13, 2001
Believe or not, I ALWAYS practice the "mise en place" method at home. It means to me, having everything chopped up and prepped and put in little bowls, having all my spices and other ingredients measured out. It means that my stock (if need be) will be already heated up and waiting for me on the stove (think of risotto!!).

Can't cook chinese without "mise en place" either. It all makes sense.

Joined Aug 4, 2000
Watching The Great Chefs on tv, I learned to complete all of the "prep' first. Then proceed to cooking. :cool:


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
If any of you have a chance to watch the team competitions, you would see the ultimate mise en place. Even the junior teams show an exceptionally high level of competence in the mise en place. The best junior teams are so detailed that they could probably do all of the food blindfolded! It's not all about food either. From the knives to the cutting boards to the sanitizing solution and rags. Everything is measured and accounted for before competition and recounted and checked twice right before competition. It's truly amazing. If you get a chance to go to Vegas this year for the ACF convention I would encourage everyone to watch some competition, and no, that Evian is not for drinking. It's for the gelatin :D



Joined Apr 4, 2000
I wish I was as organised like Kimmie with all her little bowls. ;)

Seriously, mise en place does make sense. It saves time and can prevent errors.
Joined Jan 5, 2001
I'm prepping for the Emeril show this week. Believe me: you haven't done mise-en-place until you've done it for TV!!! It's even worse for us because some recipes have to be done 3 or 4 times to varying degrees of completion, and the remaining ingredients organised in such a way that he can easily figure it out.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
everything handy and ready to cook with....ie not just the amounts of food cut or blanched or sauteed but all the equipment you need ready to go.....so your not wasting time looking for shtuff as you cook.
Joined Dec 8, 1999
Shroomgirl, as usual, has hit the nail on the head. It is most definitely not just the amount of food prepped, but also the equipment needed to cook said food with. And, no offense to you, Isaac, but with only 3 years under your belt, you are wearing a cook's hat, not a chef hat.
Joined Aug 4, 2000
Okay, my additional 2 cents.

Mise en place means SETUP. Surgeons and race car mechanics practise mise en place. All equipment and supplies are organized; everything is in its own place where it's expected to be. :D

[ June 21, 2001: Message edited by: kokopuffs ]
Joined Jan 26, 2001
if only the waitstaff and i didn't share the same reach-in....

I am constantly running back to the walk in for various desserts and extra veggies. At least I know where everything is so it doesn't take too much time, but how much time would be saved if I truly had space for my mise en place!

Joined May 6, 2001
I love mise en place too. I have a set of clear glass nesting bowls from the largest mixing size down to the little bity tablespoon size. I like to gather all my ingredients first to make sure I have all I need to make the recipe, and the right amounts to make it. It goes quicker, and allows even my 2 year old to help in the kitchen. To me it also means having organized pantry, fridge, and cabinets.
Joined Jun 9, 2001
greg: true true... but there is no doubt in my mind or the other chefs i have worked for that some day, i will become a chef. i am on the right road
Joined Mar 6, 2001
I learned mise en place catering. If you didn't account for every single detail from your food through every piece of equpiment you would or could need, you were sunk with no way to recover. Plus you must have things staged properly, or you'd never survive the night. Of course you always forgot something...then you realize mise en place takes place in your head too. Like an athelete I would visualize my party walking though everything... down to the plates visual. If I didn't, the party controled me instead of me controling the party/kitchen.

I watch my assistant line up her bowls and pre-measure each recipe and it seems silly now (wasted steps, wasted time for me but essential for her)...as time has progressed in my experience my misen place doesn't look anything like hers. I don't pre measure much any more I can pull things together in seconds (I know where everything is and how full the containers are at all times) my whole area is my misen place that I dance through daily (just watch-out because I rarely miss a beat and I might step on your foot as I reach and step). :D
Joined Nov 17, 2000
Ah, those wonderful little bowls! I remember a day in the dim past when I used to try to cook without creating extra dishwashing! Ha! and double Ha! No wonder I was always in the weeds. Then, in this lifetime, I read a bunch about chef school and such and learned about mise en place. Now, it's true that teachers must have their own mise en place. How else could we function with all those different classes pouring in every hour? Gotta have the books, the worksheets (nasty word, that) and all the rest set out and ready to go. But I never once connected that process to cooking. Lordy, I'm so dense! Anyway, I learned that I can actually be pretty efficient if I do the prep and put out what I need BEFORE I start to actually cook. So, I do a few dishes. Big deal! Now if I just knew how to PRONOUNCE mise en place, I could tell my husband that I was busy getting my "however you say that" ready! Phonetics, anyone? :D


Founder of Cheftalk.com
Staff member
Joined Oct 5, 2001
Mise en place encompasses a lot especially when I think about working a hot line where you are doing several courses per client and really doing some high end food. Besides having all of your equipment and ingredients in place you need to have a lot more in line. So often on the line people are only focused about their mise en place but a line is really a team so if you are on saute and the grill guy is getting behind in his prep then part of your mise en place is to jump in and help him/her out.

Another big part of your mise en place is your mental mise en place. Are you ready for the night? Or, are you thinking about the bills you forgot to pay, or your girlfriend? I don't think it matters one bit if you have all of your tools, or all of your ingredients if mentally you are not ready then you are going to be in the weeds.
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