Signs that someone is a GOOD cook
- LaureltQ Jun 22, 2011 08:23 PM
We've hashed and rehashed what things may make you think a cook is not very good, but what makes you have faith in their cooking skills or at least the tastiness of the food they'll churn out?
For me, it would probably be:
Lots of fresh produce and a freezer full of "from scratch" items, like beef stock, pasta sauces, enchilada sauce, etc.
This is obviously problematic, but not too many "single tasker" gadgets that could otherwise have their job done by something else.
Well-used items, like stained silpats and heavily scoured stainless pans.
Fresh lemons and garlic in the pantry, not for decoration.
Funny I was thinking slightly the opposite. Most of the people I consider good cooks or skilled in preparation don't spend a lot of time on bravado; they just let their food do the talking.
OTOH, these people tend to know where to source and score wonderful produce, meat, spices and supplies for less money and with a first name basis relationship. That always gets my attention.
For me it would be watching them cook and tasting their food.
Casual observation isn't adequate (how do you know that beef stock and pasta sauce is any good?), though I would be on the lookout for fundamental hygiene.
They like to cook and want to learn.
They grow or buy local, fresh ingredients. Hunt or raise poultry, etc. if they are so inclined. Ditto gilintx minimally processed comment. There's no attribution on this (we have it in our kitchen)
1. Buy it with thought
2. Cook it with care
3. Serve just enough
4. Serve what will keep
5. Eat what would spoil
6. Home-grown is best
don't waste it
Based on my experiences, people who enjoy food and are good cooks seem to have a certain spirit about them . . .the need to create . . .a respect for the ingredients, etc.
James Beard's "Simple Foods" first chapter is Good Cooking is in Your Hands . . . "Hands were the earliest of all implements for preparing food, and they are still the most versatile, efficient and sensitive."
I think that list is from (at least part of it, anyway!) WWII propaganda leaflets, btw. I have a reproduction postcard from the Imperial War Museum (in Britain) which lists the first three statements. I love it because it's not really 'austere' advice, just advice that stands the test of time.
While I agree, many good cooks are also aware of the prepared and partly-prepared resources around them. I can get very good rôtisserie chickens (quality meat) at Jean-Talon market and other nearby places, and I certainly buy bbq ducks at a nearby Sino-Vietnamese shop; moreover the person tending to them also deftly cleaves them into small pieces.
I can also get spice mixes from a shop with a good turnover.