The Ten Commandments of Cooking

1.“Dull Knife, Dull Chef” — Always Keep Your Knives Sharp.

2. Control the heat, do not let the heat control you.

Restaurant stove burners with flames for cooking

3. Use All Five Senses.

4. Work Clean

5. Eat and Cook Locally Grown Produce

Chef Joe Nilsen holding a Red Snapper fish

A cook is only as good as the ingredients they begin cooking with. Locally grown ingredients are much better than the trash that goes through long supply chains.

Fruits and vegetables begin to lose their nutritional value just 24 hours after being picked. Locally sourced foods are fresher, grown naturally, taste incredible, and maintain nutritional value. There’s no denying that buying these ingredients is slightly less convenient and slightly more expensive. At the end of the day, consider the value vs. the downsides. If you cannot understand how the benefits outweigh any inconveniences, perhaps you are in the wrong place.

6. Taste As You Go

Texture is part of flavor. The starting texture of your ingredients and the changes that occur as you cook them is crucial to the final dish. Throughout the cooking process, keep an eye out for changes in the texture of the food.

Magnify your sense of taste with your sense of smell. Basic flavors like sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy are the ones you can taste. Much of the overall sense of taste encompasses smells, too; pay attention to everything you can smell as you cook and adjust accordingly.

7. Use Recipes as Inspiration — Not as Marching Orders

8. Season Your Food Properly

9. Utilize Mise en Place, Always

A cook’s mise en place prepared for them to cook a meal

10. Cook With a Fiery Passion for the Ones You Love

You can be the most technically skilled chef out there. You could have worked in New York City’s three Michelin-starred restaurants; this doesn’t matter. You will be a good cook, without a doubt. But you will never be a great cook who can spread love through cooking.

I love quotes. I used to keep a dry-erase whiteboard at my station at every restaurant to write my quote of the day. The quotes were from people like Aristotle and Dr. Seuss. Surprisingly, my favorite quote is not from one of history’s greats. It comes from a fellow chef I worked with who had a passion for cooking and a supernatural ability to fire up any kitchen’s staff. One Saturday night, after completing another fully booked service, we talked about the connection between love and cooking-how wonderful it is to make the world a better place through the craft we both loved. I’ll never forget this quote: “Cooking for someone is the most intimate connection one human can have with another.”

If you thought cooking was boiling pasta and whipping up a sauce, you would never understand a real chef. Keep cooking with a deep passion. Every day, you can spread positive energy, culture, life experience, and delicious food throughout the world.

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Joe Nilsen

Tried & true chef forged in the fires of the best restaurants in NYC. 🔥 Smartened up. Began writing and selling. 👨‍💻 https://www.linkedin.com/in/joe-nilsen/