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Dec 7, 2009 09:41 AM

Need help teaching a friend to cook!!!

I have a good friend who has asked me to teach him how to cook. I know what I am doing but I have never formally taught someone else. He has asked me to teach him the basics, cutting, chopping, sauté, etc. He wants to cook "weeknight" recipes that use most of these basic techniques, that are versatile and can be used with pork, chicken, fish, ect.

Please, does anyone have suggestions on how I can conduct this class in order to teach versatile techniques while still covering all the basics? We are planning on doing 3-5 classes so we can build on each session.

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  1. Are you sure he really wants to learn how to cook?

    Just demonstrate your techniques and have him mimic your steps....... let him ask questions as you go along about your business....Keep it simple and tell him to take notes if necessary. Watching and doing is the best way to learn as it forms a reference picture in his memory file.

    4 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      [Are you sure he really wants to learn how to cook?]

      That would be a very sweet courtship story :-)

      I would start with steak, most guys love it but don't know how to prepare it well. He could learn why we let the meat take the chill off, seasoning v marinading, searing, cooking times and resting speak to all meats. Perhaps a mushroom sauce and a simple salad w/homemade dressing. Again you have the opportunity to address chopping, flavor/spice combinations and pan sauces. Funny how something so simple can seem so complex.
      Have fun. M

      1. re: just_M


        I had a friend who was a very accomplished golfer. Once on a golf trip with over a dozen guys at the Doral Country Club in Miami, my buddy booked golf lessons with a female teaching professional two decades his junior. The guys all made fun of him. Every night for the week of the trip, the rest of the guys were out drinking and chasing fun......the latter without much success. buddy who took the golf lessons.....he had a dinner companion every night.......the female golf pro.

        1. re: fourunder

          A shared interest/activity and lovely company what more can one ask for?

        2. re: just_M

          Excellent idea with the steak. You can also teach your friend in a similar fashion how to make a simple weeknight pasta dish or an Asian inspired stir fry dish. Another good lesson would be roasting a chicken on a bed of vegetables- once you get that technique- there are so many variations.

          Also, a few quick/simple dessert ideas always make a great impression. Homemade chocolate pudding or an apple dessert of some kind..

      2. Start with teaching him basic food safety, equipment to use and knife skills...then advance to making a simple dish, like a roasted or sauteed fish or chicken dish with a easy sauce like a bechamel or a citrus butter sauce, maybe with a vegetable...Then advance to braising, etc. and make sure he takes notes and ask questions...It'll be fun!

        1. Tell him to peel 5lbs of potatos. If he bitches or asks "why all that", forget it.
          If he says "sure, and what do we do next?" you'll have a great time teaching him and he will want to learn.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mrbigshotno.1

            Whoa! Please, please, please tell me you are not a teacher, or at the very least that you were kidding. This guy is not trying out for an apprenticeship in a kitchen but looking for someone to introduce him to the wonderful world of properly prepared food. The OP has the opportunity to show him the basics but even more importantly to show him how to continue to learn and thereby give him a love that can last a lifetime. The whole torture the innocent so they can prove themselves worthy thing drives me bats. Why not ignite the spark that can leap into a fire of fascination?

            1. re: mrbigshotno.1

              That's not teaching. It's hazing. It's a good response to "how do I get this person to leave me alone?" but that wasn't the question.

            2. I'd give him a session based on the idea of "building flavor" by sauteeing some combo of chopped onions, shallots, garlic, red/green bell pepper, celery, whatever. Make sure he understands the notion of seasoning as you go, and not being afraid of tossing in - red chilli flakes, herbs/spices, soy sauce, flavorings, again...whatever. Give him a session in "cleaning out the fridge" and making a great soup or pasta dish or omelette or frittata or stirfry or....whatever! Teach him a little resourcefullness and adventure & how to not need a recipe, and create from what you have at hand. You'll be doing him an incredible favor!

              1. If your friend is a serious beginner, teach him the absolute basic techniques -- saute, braise, roast et al. Once he masters these correctly, he can cook without recipes and move on to learning the flavorings.

                Once someone can saute with confidence, he can interchange ingredients -- a chicken breast or pork tenderloin or piece of sole will be treated the same. Deglazing with various liquids (wines, fruit juices, cream, etc.), adding onions/garlic, herbs, etc will create hundreds of different meals from the same basic techniques. Think pork/apples; sole/lemon; chicken/bourbon-cream ---- how about adding different vegetables to each of these?

                He can learn roasting -- meat and vegetables - which will increase his repetoire even more.

                Once someone learns the basics of cooking, the world is theirs. Recipes are not no longer a restriction, simply a suggestion.

                Teach your friend the "WHYS" of cooking -- explain how oils heat to +/- 400 degrees but water-based liquids only reach 212 degrees, the difference between flouring and not flouring a braised meat, and many of the other subtle differences that make the difference between a cook and a meal-preparer.