Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Sep 14, 2006 03:59 AM

cooking at home / cooking in a restaurant

so, after cooking for a living for years, i'm leaving the industry. i feel like i have to re-learn how to cook at home. has anyone else experienced this? what was it like? did you make funny mistakes / make too much / find yourself frustrated? what have you learned?

it's not that i'm not enjoying it, and i'm not totally incapacitated, just confused and adjusting to it. the whole process is really making me feel new appreciation for people who are really skilled home cooks. thoughts, anyone?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Um... it will never be the same for you as the home cook who enjoys it. I haven't cooked in a pro kitchen (full time anyway- I'll do side jobs like catering as favors every now and then) in 2 years and cooking in my kitchen still has a feeling of "rigidity" and structure as if I were on a line. I mean you don't have the same need for urgency, but I've felt like my thoughts in cooking for my friends and family is "let's get this out there" type of mentality. I'm really focused and just want to "get the food out" when I should just slow down, be with my friends, enjoy the wine and put on a show... in the end, that's what they want.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Veggietales

      that's interesting. i am finding it hard to tell what i would ike to eat, and then to cook that. i am too used to pleasing other people.

      i used to make pastries, though, i never spent much time on the line, so that hasn't been so bad. there is little use for my perfect brioche or whatever at home. i find myself to be curiously inefficient at home. home kitchens are not set up as well for efficiency as restaurants - it's amazing.

      also, do you find yourself making food that is way more unhealthy than most people at home? it is just habit for me, to finish things in butter, you know?

      1. re: pigtails

        I have explained to people that I can't really eat what I cook, I'll taste it, but I still have a "motivation" issue of preparing something from scratch, then sitting by myself to enjoy it... (plus having to do the dishes, etc.). So I opt for easy, one pot type meals for myself.

        Yes, home kitchens are a joke. I don't have enough counter space, BTUs or ventilation(not to mention I'm missing a steamer, a sallie, a flat top and a deep fryer!) Which adds to the discouragement of taking on complex meals to be cooked my home. Evil as this sounds, I dont' mind cooking in someone else's place, cause they usually feel obliged to clean since I'm doing the cooking, all part of my evil plan ;-)

        And yes, I have complete disregard for healthy cooking, and always thinking about what to add to make the outcome of better taste be the star, and if that means more animal fat or sodium, so be it.

        1. re: Veggietales

          I have to laugh and agree with you about the BTUs and no hood/ventilation! Not to mention a convection oven at eye level with doors that open out to the sides rather than pulling the door open from the top to swing down. Come to think of it, I really miss a deck oven with steam capacity.

          As for counter space, I've worked in kitchens where the counter space at my station was about as big as a sheetpan. I had to pull a rolling rack out of the corner to get sheetpans on/off the rack, and do some gymnastics to get the oven open during prep. Also lived in a flat in NYC with less counter space that that, so my current kitchen is a dream. I just wish I had more cupboard/storage space to get stuff off the counters!

        2. re: pigtails

          Pigtails, I feel the same way when i am cooking at home. I was self taught(ugh) but I paid my way though college by working on the line and then moving over to pastry when the she(why is the pastry station the most common place for a lady too cook) when she took maternity leave and didn't come back. There are so many recipes that I love to cook,(whats the point to making 6 doz cannoli when there is only 3 people?) but it's not worth the time and effort to make many products for a 2 person home. I still volunteer at soup kitchens and other functions, but there is a certain attraction to the speed and stress of the line when you are in the weeds on a weekend evening. I find that cooking with someone who has never cooked for a living to be stressful as they don't plan and are extremely unorganized.

          P.S. I thought I was the only person who has no desire to eat wheat I just spent 3 hours cooking.

      2. It's much easier except there are no one to do the dirty pots and pans or sweep the floor. Don't have to worry about consistency, freaking out because you're missing an ingredient, start to enjoy food that you couldn't look at because you so sick of making it a thousand times. The difficult part is finding the great ingredients or having to pay retail for them.

        1. When I cook at home I really miss the space organization and the equipment, and everything seems impossibly difficult, even simple stuff. The refrigerator annoys me. It's all too much of a pain somehow. I'm too (relatively) disorganized at home. I tend to eat cubes of cheese or fish sticks or pickle sandwiches anymore.

          1 Reply
          1. re: NeNePie

            In my "dream house" kitchen, I'd want a lowboy with a benchtop for my center or side island, and a separate reach-in in an adjacent room with a pantry and storage, preferably near the garage (or "receiving" area when I bring home groceries!).

          2. I learned early to cook a lot of food (parents + 6 siblings). Then, when I went to culinary school, we'd cook every thing in huge portions. Then I worked in restaurants, which was great/fine....but then I became a private chef for 2 people.

            Now I find that I always make WAY too much food. But what I really miss about cooking in a restaurant is the deep fat fryer and the steam table (and the prep cooks and the clean-up crew). I still have a REALLY hard time cleaning up the big mess after a dinner party.

            1. One thing that still throws me about cooking and entertaining at home is that we don't keep "regular" iodized salt at home. We have about a dozen salts to chose from (kosher, sea, fleur de sel, sel gris, in coarse, flake, etc), and we keep them in glass jars for storage, with a small pinch bowl of kosher on the kitchen counter. This throws many of our guest off.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Non Cognomina

                This was a fascinating thread for me to read - I never even thought about all the expected professional kitchen equipment you'd have to do without in a home kitchen due to space constraints (or cost constraints).

                But Non Cog, I'm curious - why are guests thrown off by not having iodized salt - do you mean not having a salt shaker on the table? I no longer have one of those either, other than the light green Jadeite salt/pepper shakers on the back of my stove from my grandma's house - but they're more for show than actual use.

                This is where individual salt dips next to each place setting filled with kosher salt would work. I used to collect various shapes of cut glass salt dips, and still have a few left. I prefer putting them on the table with a small salt spoon (usually silver) and let guests use them. They love the idea of their own little salt receptacle. Just a thought.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  I think it throws off my family and friends who come visit, most from the rural midwest. When they think of salt they think of Morton's iodized salt in a blue container with a pour spout that you fill your shaker with. Kosher salt, sea salt and specialty salts are somewhat "exotic" for them, and they don't understand how we could be out of "real" salt. They also don't seem keen on the idea of sprinkling salt with your fingers. I suppose it's just their personal preference.