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Alone When Cooking?

Recently I have been wondering whether my preference to be alone in the kitchen is something peculiar to me or pretty normal.

If I have guests over, then I am quite happy for people to pop into the kitchen - it's part of the socializing and if they pop in, I do not miss out and so I am quite happy for the company.

But day to day, I very much prefer to be alone when I cook. There is something about being able to focus on the cooking without any distraction that I find really satisfying. And in a strange way, even when I am doing prep that I really do not care for (like peeling shallots), I am content to be alone.

My wife has more or less given up trying to help, unless I am doing something major and can use a hand. Even then, if I am having a great time being in the thick of things, she'll get shooed off to watch TV.

Given that food is a pretty social thing, I'd really like to know how others feel about this.

CPla.

http://www.chefpla.com

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  1. I prefer to be alone. That way I can dedicate my total concentration to the food I'm preparing. I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten to get something going on the stove, burned vegetables I was cooking in a small amount of liquid or cut my fingernail because one of the kids came in talking to me or trying to get a drink, snack, etc.

    If entertaining, I try to get everything except the finishing touches done early so when guests arrive, I can give them my total attention.

    1. It's not just you... In general I do not like to have other people in the kitchen while I'm cooking, partly b/c my apartment kitchen is small and there just isn't room for 2, and partly b/c for me cooking is an intimate experience and I don't want to share it with just anyone. There are a few people in my life that are allowed in the kitchen while I'm cooking, primarily the people who taught me to cook in the first place - my mom, aunt, and grandmother - I guess I'm used to having them in the kitchen since that's how it's always been.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mpjmph

        I agree. We socialize over the food, but my kitchen if off limits. My mother is the only person I'll allow in my kitchen - rummaging through the cabinets, rattling my pots and pans. But that's how it's always been in my family...the kitchen is the Lady of the House's Domain and it's considered rude to tinker around in her kitchen...unless you were special enough to be invited in. My mom and I discussed this a long time ago she said that it could be a Southern thing for us - since that's where we're from. She recounted that it was like that between the black cooks and the white familiies that they cooked/served for. The white family may have been in control of a lot of things but their kitchen was considered the domain of their black cook.

        Even my children know better. Except for grabbing something out of the fridge, washing the dishes (don't touch my cast iron!) or some other specific mission like warming something in the microwave, they ask before they do anything in my kitchen.

      2. The enjoyment of the food is definitely a social thing. But... the preparation is a solo thing for me. I do NOT want anyone in the kitchen when I'm doing my thing. My guess is that most cooks feel this way.

        1. I enjoy having others in the kitchen when I am cooking, luckily we have a big kitchen where people can be in there without getting in each others way.

          Perhaps since I did alot of cooking in restaurants with lots of fellow cooks, and even pesky waiters and waitresses milling about, having people in the kitchen does not bother me.

          2 Replies
          1. re: swsidejim

            Maybe that's why I don't mind people around. After several years in a professional kitchen, I'm used to people around me. My DH (also professional) and I manage to slide around each other quite well in out little space. I even catch myself calling out 'behind' when passing him, even though in such a small space, it's obvious where I am.

            1. re: Sooeygun

              I agree,

              Cooking is a social event in my life, and the least stressfull thing I do in my life. I like to share food, cooking tecniques, ingredients, and their sources with others. I would not want to be sequestered away in kitchen with no human canotact, or interaction. That seems pretty odd, and kind of control freakish to me.

          2. you know, recently I've found I get a little irritated if some one is watching me prep or cook- I'm not sure why. It's not like I'm unsure of what I'm doing, or that it's too distracting necessarily. Maybe it's just that it takes away from the visceral enjoyment of working with the food, kind of like a painter or a sculpter who's "in the zone"? I'd rather my family (or guests) have the full experience when eating whatever it is I've prepared, and not know all the "mystery" behind it's production....