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Who is the best cook you know?

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And how did they attain this? You can say yourself, I for one, after almost 20 years of cooking can at least make myself happy.
But perhaps we also need to define what makes someone the "best cook."

My paternal grandmother definitively does not screw anything up. Each new experiment is a success and her bland, yet vibrant-healthy cooking style is extremely nourishing and yummy.
My mom experiments and gets distracted but she's the only person I know well that can make maki and 5 spiced pork.
I know what I like...so it's hard to screw that one up.

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  1. My friend Jonathan Scott, it doesn't hurt that he went to culinary school and worked in restaurants, he now is a personal chef and caters dinner parties. Not only does he have the training, but he loves food and really understands why things work the way they do. Doesn't hurt that he is a perfectionist, so if the first pass doesn't work, he tweaks it until it does. I thought I could cook until I met him! He also rarely skimps, I now have a freezer full of home made stocks, something I am too lazy to do! I had forgotten that the little details make such a big difference.

    1. A friend, Mark. He's had some culinary training and goes so far beyond me in the details in his cooking. While I haven't had many of his meals, he is usually in charge at a friend's New Year's Eve party, and the meals he makes are absolutely phenomenal and well thought out. I'm honored to attempt to be his sous chef when he's on a tear. He made a Veal Osso Buco earlier this year for a group of friends, and made the veal stock from scratch...definitely something I would never have done. I would have just gotten the veal demi-glace containers and used that. :-)

      1. Other than me, my brother, John. He went to culinary school and worked in restaurants. Mostly, however, we learned how to cook out of desperation--our mother just didn't cook so it was either deli sandwiches or figure out how those recipes worked....

        1. Mom. She can whip up just about anything from scratch, with no recipe in sight. It doesn't matter if she's making an eight-course (or more) Chinese dinners with everything prepared perfectly and everything (seemingly) ready at the proper serving time or a traditional American thanksgiving, or authentic Mexican/Tex-Mex (a product of growing up in Phoenix, AZ), she can do it all.

          She can't, however, grill or BBQ...she has a tendency to burn everything outside.

          1. My brother Bill. He loves it, isn't afraid to try new things or tweak his standard offerings and always goes out of the way to make something special for someone, like his baby sister.

            My Aunt June, who passed away in 1991, was the first great cook I knew and as a child I was amazed at her offerings and how she could take something simple and make it wonderful. She was one of those great ladies who always had something on the stove or in the frig and also a baked goodie or two or three on the counter at any given time.

            1. Without question my Uncle. Not only the best cook I know but always willing. I love to prepare food but I also enjoy a few days off..Uncle loves to cook all the time. Wonderful about trying new things, laughs off failures, enjoys other cooks and loves to dine out.

                1. I am, now my grandmother (buon'anima) is gone.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    DU, you certainly have an impressive variety in your family history, gender, and body mass. ( I have seen multiple examples of each from you.)

                  2. It's a tie. My mom is the best cook I know in terms of making delicious meals in a heartbeat. However, one of my best friends Jared is the real mad scientist in the kitchen. Whenever I have some random ingredient leftover in my kitchen, he's the genius that create something new and usually tasty with it.

                    1. Another "other than me", my brother - who is known for his thrown-together method of cooking and my two sisters, both of whom know their ways around the kitchen quite well and, I trust them both completely. I've rarely had a bad meal at any of their homes. My youngest sister in particular, is a whiz when it comes to baked goods - something which I have no finesse with, since I don't really have a sweet tooth.

                      Actually, my SIL and her daughter are both pretty darn good too come to think of it.

                      1. My mother who is now gone and Thomas Keller. Maybe not in that order but I'll never admit it.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: oysterspearls

                          Yes, but do you KNOW Thomas Keller, or have you just eaten in his restaurants? I think this thread is more about the best cook you know in your regularly scheduled life, whose food you've eaten without having to pay for it. Of course if you do know TK, I take it all back.

                            1. re: oysterspearls

                              Okay, you've piqued my interest, or should I say, whetted my appetite...

                        2. My BF's mom. She is an amazing cook. She grew up in a very large family (I think around 15) and from the age of 11 was in the kitchen. She is always whipping up the most delicious meals -- we'll go over to the house unannounced, and within a matter of moments, she's throwing things together and comes out with a culinary masterpiece everytime. I keep wanting her to open a restaurant, but she is concerned the quality will go down.

                          1. Me, and I'm not being boastful.
                            - Every woman I've ever dated, and there've been a few, have gained in short order a minimum of 5 lbs because of my cooking
                            - People openly lobby me for dinner invitations
                            - I listen to people's conversation and make mental notes that so-and-so loves lobster but hadn't had any in years. When they come to my house for dinner, guess what's on the menu.
                            - I set a helluva' table and there's none of this up-and-down like a frog on a freeway getting stuff because I think of everything.
                            - I never serve any dish that hasn't been thoroughly thought out. Ingredients, seasonality, degree of difficulty, etc.
                            - I have excellent kitchen-sense. Cleanup as I go, stage the necessary ingredients, don't have too much going at once, etc.
                            - I've watched PBS cooking shows on Saturday for 30 years.
                            - I do a lot of from-scratch, homemade cooking that nobody does anymore.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Scagnetti

                              Can I be your friend? Or girlfriend? ;-)

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Sure, but I'm only attracted to difficult and complex women. No joke.

                                1. re: Scagnetti

                                  ROFL!! Ummm, well several of my family members and several long-time bosses will say I fit that bill. <vbg>

                              2. re: Scagnetti

                                scag-then I'm free friday night! haha

                              3. My SIL. She used to be a professional cook in her own restaurant but gave that up when she married my brother and became a SAHM. Every time I visit she lays on huge Chinese dinners with all the special ingredients she keeps for these occasions.

                                I asked DH who he thought was the best cook we knew and sadly we could come up with no-one we thought was particularly good. He's never met my family so never met the SIL. We know so few people who cook at home at all, and none of them is much good at anything.

                                1. Pretty much me, these days. My maternal grandpa and paternal grandma were the best of my childhood; my mom got a whole lot better after she no longer had to feed five people on no money, and got herself a decent kitchen. My father-in-law was another "best" until recently - he's still pretty good most of the time, but when he does something that turns out awful he can't seem to tell the difference. Anyway, he's handed over the chef's hat for family feasts to me. My sister-in-law is a good solid French home cook, and can turn out some pretty exquisite stuff, but she insists on following recipes blindly, to the point of cooking today's pork according to '50s instructions, so that it comes out like balsa wood.

                                  My wife is really pretty good, but as she hasn't my commitment to regular meals she's handed it all over to me. I think my brother is about as good as I am, though I'm not around him often enough to confirm that, and I have great hopes for my son...since I wasn't worth a hoot until I was over 40, and he's only 31, there's time, there's time.