Chef Kenny's 8 Tips for Staying Calm in a Busy Kitchen
Chef Kenny’s Thanksgiving Week Takeover continues!
One of the many wonderful parts of Thanksgiving is the side dishes—three, five, ten—you can never have enough. But with a loaded Thanksgiving menu comes a lot of preparation.
Whether you’re heading up Thanksgiving dinner or simply a helper, Thanksgiving kitchens are incredibly busy and could benefit from a little pre-cooking-crisis planning. One person who knows his way around a bustling kitchen is 1440 Multiversity Executive Chef Kenny Woods. Here he shares eight tips for keeping calm while cooking up a storm.
1. Choose In-Season Ingredients
A good cooking experience starts with quality ingredients. Even some of the worst kitchen disasters can be saved by a dash of fresh herbs or a slice of an in-season tomato. If you start with local, in-season ingredients, you’re already ahead of the game.
2. One Pot Does a Lot
When preparing food for a large group, get creative with your pots and pans. For example, you don’t have to melt butter in a separate pot. Instead, even if the pot is larger than necessary, melt the butter and then add additional ingredients to the same pot. Also, you should serve many dishes straight from the stovetop without changing the pot. Keep in mind that when you’re feeding a lot of people, presentation shouldn’t take top billing—it’s all about the food.
3. Clean as You Go
If someone asks if they can help, don’t try to be a superhero—take them up on their offer! A couple of rounds of dishwashing throughout the day will help keep your kitchen organized and running smoothly.
4. Watch Out for Steam!
When preparing a large meal, it can be easy to get caught up in the moment and forget basic safety practices. Slowing down even just a little will help you in the long run. Chop with attention, wear oven mitts, and steer clear of steam when removing lids.
5. Keep a First Aid Kit in the Kitchen
If you get a cut or a burn, be prepared. Keep band-aids and ointment close to the kitchen for quick fixes.
6. Pre-cut Veggies
Professional kitchens prep food days in advance when cooking large meals—and so can you. Peel and chop your vegetables the day before cooking. A little pre-prep goes a long way.
7. Pro Roasting Tip
Most people are afraid to roast vegetables at anything above 350 degrees, but that’s far too low. Try 400 or 425 degreees for perfectly golden roasted vegetables.
8. Have Fun
At the end of the day, it’s not worth cooking if you’re not having fun. Remember to breathe, maybe pour a glass of wine, and enjoy the process.
Bon appétit, friends, and happy Thanksgiving!