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Apr 7, 2007 03:59 PM

Volunteering to help cook in someone else's kitchen?

Ok, I admit it. I can't go to someone's house and let them cook me a dinner. I have to get my hands in the preparation of that food in some way, whether it's throwing things in the oven, chopping, plating food, whatever.

Sometimes I've found myself actually cooking the meal, instead of the hosts. Is it me, or is it them? I'm not sure. Maybe I'm pushy in the kitchen? For instance, every time I go to visit my parents, I volunteer to help my mom cook, then end up cooking the meal myself, while she plays the role of sous-chef. Now, because she's my mom, she gladly lets me do it and always says how much she loves cooking with me in the kitchen.

I swear, it's not because I'm a control freak, or that I don't think my friends and family don't cook as well as I do. It's because I simply love to get my hands in there and cook. A passion for cooking that I can't let go.

I'm sure I've annoyed people with it before, but I just can't stop. It's like an addiction. One that has no cure.

Do other people have this problem or is it just me???

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  1. I have three cases:

    1. A couple of friends are good cooks; we share cooking, and when do so, we hardly need to talk once we know what the menu is.
    2. Some younger friends are on their way to becoming cooks. I sit nearby having wine, but do and say nothing unless asked.
    3. Some of my friends almost expect me to cook because they know I enjoy doing so.

    1. LOL, yep you sound like an Alpha in the kitchen. But do realize that not everyone wants you inthe food in their kitchen...mind you nothing against you, I am sure, but they are probably Alpha too.

      Personally, I do not like ( OK, I even hate it) when folks wanna mess with my stuff, in my kitchen, especially when I have planned out a dinner party. Since they cannot be inside my head, their "little help" is almost always a big hinder. i can and have planned, we-all-cook parties, usually things like making pastas or do it yourself pizzas on the grill. But unless I invite you, ty but NO TY I do not need yoru help.

      1. "Anything I can do to help?"

        That's where I start. The answer can range from, "Got everything covered, go and enjoy yourself in..." to "I got a real problem" and then I feel like a Navy Seal.

        I cook most nights at home, and although I love it, being a true guest is very pleasant. The hardest part is the eating. I have been served close to raw chicken to salmon that the host grilled for 30 minutes. In the first case I carved one piece and spread it around the plate and I drank a LOT of water to get the second case down my throat. And you know what, both were great times. I couldn;t care less about the food that was served because we were having a great time. There are many times my dinner is a PBJ when we get home, but that's OK.

        But there is a cure if you want it and its good news, I think you might grow out of it. I was like you 20+ years ago and as you can see from the first paragraph, not doing it any more.

        1. I would offer to help, but wouldn't insist if they declined my offer. Most people I know who enjoy cooking consider their kitchen to be their castle, and prefer not to have anyone messing around in it. I love cooking too, but save it for my own kitchen.

          How about when you have people over for food? Do you like it when they "help"?

          5 Replies
          1. re: hrhboo

            I kind of have a different problem. Mom handed over her spatula to us kids long ago, and when we go to her house, if cooking's involved, it's always up to us kids. (I don't mind - she's 76 years old!!!) But the maddening thing is, we can never find the stuff (utensils, pots, spices, etc.) we need, since she's got it organized HER way (never mind she doesn't cook anymore!), and she would get very upset if we changed anything - she's very protective of her space. So, for Thanksgiving, for instance, we always have to rummage around on a scavenger hunt IN ADDITION to cooking!! : (
            Oh vey --

            1. re: aurora50

              Exactly! My twin sister and I started cooking dinners for the family when we were 9 years old (no lie) - my Mom had gone back to school to get a second degree and we had always been in the kitchen with her anyway.

              Now I do most of the cooking when I'm at her house, which is fine with me, however trying to find things in her kitchen with the way she has it organized is AGGRAVATING!

              1. re: Jeanne

                Oh my gosh. I was talking about Me and MY twin sister!!!
                And we started cooking at about the same age.
                Small world, eh??? ; )

            2. re: hrhboo

              See, the thing is, everyone always asks me to help.
              I think the problem is, I start taking over.

              When people come to my house, they are always welcome to help in the kitchen. There's always something to chop or stir. Having help is great.

              1. re: QueenB

                The problem is that helping is one thing and taking over is quite another.
                I, like Quine, don't like guests around me when I'm cooking. I move relatively quickly while cooking; so IMO going from "helpful" to "hindrance" only takes one quick misstep.

                Different people have different ways to prepare the same things; when you're in someone else's home you have to respect their way of doing/preparing things. Therefore I think you might be better off taking a deep breath, and moving away from the kitchen. Try to remember that as a guest your role is to enjoy yourself.

                Having your host repeat for the nth time that indeed he/she has things under control and no help is needed can become annoying. I never had the situation happen; however, depending on the level of obtrusiveness I think my reaction would be to drop the person from any future guest list and leave it at that.


            3. I understand the urge to want to jump in there because I feel it too BUT I try to remember who of my friends/family likes help and who of my friends/family does not and definitely respect the person's kitchen and their space. My mom is a total control freak in the kitchen and I learned early to know my role in someone else's kitchen. It was a good lesson.