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Control freak in my kitchen.

I don't know if any of you are. I can't stand when other people want to cook in my kitchen. Using my knifes,and pans.I cringe. Being polite I ask them to sit and relax. Anyone else have this problem?

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  1. I don't run into that problem.
    Whenever someone asks if they can "help" I say, "Yes, get the hell outta my kitchen...."
    I suppose that I may not be quite as polite as you.....

    1. In my kitchen, the control freak is my dog... He hates to have intruders in the kitchen!! Personally I love to share kitchens, including cooking in other people's kitchens.

      1. I usually have everything pretty much ready when I have guests (I assume that's what you're talking about and not family?) I'm sort of a whirlwind doing final prep so I rarely have anyone try to help....well,now that I think about it, my SIL in the beginning wanted to recreate her younger days, with all the ladies cooking together in harmony. I didn't mind her using my equipment at all though, she is very delicate; but she was more of a hindrance than a help, since had to ask how to do every single thing. Anything she would take three times as long as I would, plus then I would lose track of what had to be done with all the instructions she needed. She finally got the message one time when I once was a little crankier than usual (nothing terrible, just enough that she realized I wasn't into bonding over the food like she was) so those days are thankfully over. I felt bad later but it worked!

        I'm more of a control freak with people helping me wash the dishes, because I've lost a lot of things that way.Why are you afraid for people to use your pots and knives? That they are going to damage them in some way? Or are going to hurt themselves?

        6 Replies
        1. re: coll

          "she would take three times as long as I would"

          omg, a couple years ago we had a get-together and one friend was so willing to help, but was not a cook AT ALL -- it took her over an hour to cut two packages of pita bread into wedges...

          1. re: juster

            It we were just hanging out it would be OK, but not when you're under the gun!

            1. re: coll

              I think the thing here was, she showed up early and was eager to help. It was frustrating because we really could have used some real help, yes, but it was obvious that she wouldn't have been able to provide it anyway, so it was best just to let her do her thing and thank her for it. I mean, it wasn't even like she was chatting; she was really concentrating on those pitas. It was just kind of jaw-droppingly hilarious.

              1. re: juster

                I can relate to " jaw-droppingly hilarious" with inept folks in the kitchen. A few weeks ago I was helping out in a beverage lab and some bartenders were planning on making a celery spirit. The celery needed to be pureed in a blender before infusing. They each washed by hand, and cut, one stalk by one stalk, two heads of celery, into tiny pieces and put it into the blender. It took about 35 minutes for them to do this.

                The next day at home I was playing with the recipe from the lab. I put a head of celery down on a cutting board, rough cut into large pieces, threw them into a colander and rinsed and threw in the blender. Total time, much less than a minute. Then I had the laugh I had held in the day before.

            2. re: juster

              I live with that at work. No more details, I have to be able to vent somewhere

            3. re: coll

              "sort of a whirlwind doing final prep so I rarely have anyone try to help"

              why yes: "you can ask yourself if you want dinner raw, incomplete or burned. because if you keep yakking, that's how it's going to turn out."

              which I find a bit nicer than blurting "fuck off and get. out. of. my. face."

            4. I am a little bit of a control freak mostly because I don't want guests to do something. However I have a lot of friends who will show up hours early to parties and I will put them to work. Usually it is something easy like buying ice or cutting veg for crudité platter. I will actually save a couple of these jobs for the people who I need to keep busy while I finishing things that I am more anal about.

              1 Reply
              1. re: melpy

                smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors. always save something for the sap.

              2. I refuse to do anything in the kitchen if anyone else is in there. Also no one is allowed to touch my equipment. I had a guest go into my kitchen and grab my brand new $250 shun ken onion 8 inch chefs knife and start whacking away trying to cut vegetables on a glass board and destroy it. I've had a food processor, and a juicer motors burnt out; and other tools wrecked by folks using them who didn't know how.

                Also, I once had my nephew grab me from behind while I was chopping ginger and I cut off the top of a finger. Had to get micro surgery to reattach.

                2 Replies
                1. re: JMF

                  Why do you even have a glass board? Is it a trivet?

                  1. re: ricepad

                    Yes, I have one on each side of the stove for hot pots and pans. Right near them are stacks of cutting boards...

                2. The phrase, "Get the hell outta my kitchen" has been heard often in Chez CHM.

                  1. As a guest, I say, 'If there's anything I can do, let me know.' I don't consider someone who doesn't want me to do anything a control freak.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mwhitmore

                      you can come to my house, I'll set you to mixing drinks or iced tea and lounge in the yard with your choice of reading material in the sunshine. or finding the weirdest stuff to put on the CD player, your call.

                      IMHO a low maintenance guest is one who doesn't need an ounce of attention beyond what I'm able to give.

                    2. Can"t stand it my own home is not a problem but at the cottage is. Last year my mother inlaw was up and according from my sister inlaw she caught her trying to fill my crock pot with oil. She thought it was a deep fryer, all my good cookwere and knives are at home. This year we are ripping out the kitchen and enlarging it, have new everything, counter, cupboards and ton of cookwere. As for home I hate when someone touches my stuff, I have worked hard and long and with a lot of thought to pick out what I want. I think some people have no repect for all the care, money and thought that has gone into everything. Kind of feel that I"am kind of crabby.... maybe ????

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: catface1

                        " thought (the crockpot) was a deep fryer"

                        it would have been tempting to stand back in silence and see where that went...

                        1. re: hill food

                          Me too. "Damn, these french fries are still rock hard..."

                      2. I don't ask for nor like help in my kitchen, either in prep or clean-up.

                        However, found myself on the receiving end when I stayed with a friend on vacation. I was "helping" in her kitchen, and several days later she let me know (finally) quite plainly that she "didn't ask for nor like help" in HER kitchen.

                        So, I understand from a guest's perspective that sometimes a "no thanks" may sound like a polite shooing when a REAL shooing is meant.

                        1. My cooking style tends be kind of frenetic, and I have little tolerance for people getting in my way. I often have to be quite 'firm' in expressing my desire that other stay out from under my feet. I also have to make sure that when anyone asks if they can bring something, to respond something like, "Anything you'd like as long as it doesnt have to be cooked or heated up."

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Fydeaux

                            ..or refrigerated, unless it's winter and can go in the garage!

                            1. re: coll

                              Ideally, regardless of season, it should be something that can come in the door, have the covering removed, and be set down for people to start in on.

                          2. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
                            "Yes, stay out of the kitchen!!"
                            I do most of the cooking in our home and I don't mind if someone else wants to cook. Trophy wife is a good cook and son in law is a chef. If someone else wants to cook I vacate the kitchen and let them "create."
                            I hosted a dinner party for 16 Saturday. I constantly pleaded with the guests (trophy wife's relatives so I had to be nice) to stay out of the kitchen and don't block the door to the patio where I was also grilling on the BBQ.
                            I do not think of myself as a control freak.

                            1. I absolutely hate it when people try to "help me" in the kitchen, especially at Dinner parties! Except for my husband of course, he is in charge of clean-up after Dinner. :-)
                              I did make one exception - a former friend stayed with us a couple of times and I enjoyed him preparing some of his special dishes, while he was teaching me. In retrospect, nowadays reading his posts detailing his own cooking/dishes, he hopefully enjoyed the process and didn't do it to avoid my very different style of cooking....

                              1. "If you want to help the cook, make me a Manhattan."

                                I fired the architects and kept my kitchen a galley design with all appliances within 4 steps of each other. I did not open it up as I have always considered cooking as honorable work, not entertainment and open to ongoing criticism.

                                Feel free to criticise the end product. I have improved, I hope, because of listening to others.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                  Entertainment is a good description of how it feels sometimes. I consider it work, to be done and over with.

                                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                    Interesting approach to kitchen design. Unfortunately, no matter how small or cramped my kitchen, it always became a place of congregation. In this house the kitchen is quite open. The only problem is when things get a little stressful then everyone is watching if they are hanging around.

                                    1. re: melpy

                                      My parents designed (and my dad built!) their house. The kitchen is open, but a giant conference table serves as the kitchen table, which is partially meant as a long barrier to keep people close, but out of the kitchen. It mostly works, but there are those folks.....

                                      1. re: juster

                                        I like the idea of a galley that's open, keeps the KEEP OUT boundaries clear yet remains convenient. I'd consider an adjacent wetbar for the otherwise underfoot. why I love a plumbed butler's pantry.

                                  2. I finally live alone and I do not allow people to cook in (or clean) my kitchen. If they want to help, then they can top up our wine glasses! I don't mind people hanging out and talking while I cook though - and I know several people that can't stand that.

                                    1. I cook when you visit me. You cook when I visit you.
                                      No control freakishness in that formula, as far as I can see.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: almond tree

                                        Actually, I see it as the PERFECT amount of control freakishness!

                                      2. I wanted to say I'm not, but then yesterday I was making lunch and my SO was standing reading some paper he got in the mail, right in front of the cabinets where my pots and pans are. I was getting very upset (in my head) because he was messing up my flow!

                                        But, certain times I appreciate the help, depending on who it is coming from... mainly the only person I will let help me is my mom. She actually did all the day-before prep for Thanksgiving for me since I had to work.

                                        1. No, I'm not. Actually, I enjoy cooking with others. Unfortunately, my spouse and kids aren't that interested in cooking but they do eat and clean up. I've had a few people in the kitchen who, IMO, aren't using stuff correctly and I am not above shoving a cutting board under someone's hand.

                                          But overall, I find cooking to be a fun social experience and I like sharing it with others.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: tcamp

                                            Glad I'm not the only one that likes to share!

                                            1. re: tcamp

                                              Totally agree - I love to cook with friends and family and find other post here to the contrary very odd.

                                            2. I don't like anyone to help or even to be present in the kitchen when I'm cooking, quite frankly. I prefer doing it all myself, I have it all mapped out in my head and I want to keep the flow going!!

                                              1. what drives me over the edge, are folks who don't get that we all have different approaches. I crave solitude and focus, I'm usually thinking 5 or 6 steps ahead. I have a relative who abhors silence and always needs company. I literally have to get rude. once while I was dicing up pico de gallo it was considered the time for clipping toenails next to me. gah!

                                                1. I enjoy cooking with friends, not every one of them but certainly some of them. There's definitely parts of whatever dish I'm preparing that no one else is touching but Isn't part of the fun of having the dinner party arguing over who does what better and maybe even learning some new tricks and techniques?

                                                  1. At our last dinner party all 16 guests started to get up at the end of the meal to clear the table.
                                                    I thanked them and asked all but two specific guests I trusted to stay seated and chat while I prepared coffee, tea and plated desserts.
                                                    I still have memories of my well intentioned guest who insisted on helping and dropped three of my favorite platters. Ouch!!!

                                                    1. Yes, I am a control freak in my kitchen! I find that other people do not wash their hands as frequently and do not wash produce as carefully and I am worried about food becoming contaminated. I am also very careful with my pots and pans, and am concerned that others will burn them or make a areal mess of them for me to scrub later, its happened before! I try to use the best quality ingredients so when food gets wasted or ruined I take it very seriously.
                                                      Now, if I am at your house and you want to make a mess or waste food, thats your deal and I am fine to take part.

                                                      1. I have been sorely tempted to mark the kitchen floor with tape, ala Les Nessman, where people can be and where they clearly cannot be when I'm cooking. If they want to help, they can pour themselves a glass of wine or crack open a beer, then perch on a chair and yak with me while I cook. But stay outside the taped areas!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: ricepad

                                                          " If they want to help, they can pour themselves a glass of wine or crack open a beer, then perch on a chair and yak with me while I cook. "
                                                          I like that too. Much better than crowding me out in my smallish cooking space!

                                                          1. re: ricepad

                                                            I love the Les Nessman idea! Wish I'd thought of it years ago. As it is, I block one entrance point of my L-shaped kitchen (with center island) with a rolling cart as a visual reminder for folks to stay out of my work space. There is another pathway to the fridge, if people need a beverage, but my work area is effectively sealed off. Those who wish can perch at the far end of the island to chat, but that's it.

                                                            This system was implemented after a Very Bad Experience combining unsupervised and unruly and previously warned children playing tag, hot cooking fat spilled all over the floor, and a slip-and-tumble on grease that left yours truly with a copiously bloody four inch gash on the head from the corner of a base cupboard. After that, you can bet I am a petty dictator when it comes to keeping people out of the kitchen when I need them *OUT* of the kitchen. All parties involved are now Reformed, since it's hard to argue with an "I told you so" that involves pools of blood and grease all over the floor.

                                                            But I still keep the rolling cart in place. Once never knows how long folks' memories are. I just have to touch my head and feel the long ridge scar to feel perfectly within my rights to preserve a safe working space in my kitchen.

                                                          2. I don't say "Get the hell outta my kitchen", I just say "Yes, sit at the breakfast bar and keep me company". My kitchen is U-shaped and only two steps wide and I CAN NOT STAND for anyone to be in my way while I try to cook.

                                                            1. I've had a tiny Brooklyn kitchen for so long I don't remember what it's like to have the space for anyone to help! Someday perhaps I'll be able to let you all know :-)

                                                              1. I've learned that many people who ask if there is any thing they can do to help, really don't want to. I usually just ask them to sit and keep me company.

                                                                But my adult child came over with family recently and just took up residence with me in the kitchen, and gave me some nice input and help. It felt quite natural.

                                                                1. I needed help preparing for a big dinner and one of my friends offered to come early and help. I asked if she could peel some potatoes. 15 minutes later, I noticed only a couple were done and my friend was staring at the bowl. I asked if she was ok and she smiled, held up her iphone and said "Oh yeah, I'm just having face time with a client."

                                                                  1. Like others have shared here, I tend to have everything ready when folks arrive so I don't typically run into this issue. Also, because I love to cook and because I cook frequently, most of our friends and family come here prepared to eat and have no interest in cooking.

                                                                    That said, we do entertain a lot and over the years I've learned to place my priorities on the things that mean the most. My friendships are far more valuable than any knife, vase, cookware etc that I own. Yes, some valuable things have been broken or damaged along the way but, the friendships are in tact...and that's what means the most.

                                                                    My "stuff" doesn't love me back!

                                                                    1. Ha! I held a garden party for the local state gardening message board. I was driving myself crazy getting things together for snacks and beverages, and this woman breezed in and demanded my oven and microwave for her dishes! It turned out that she's a delightful person, so in retrospect I forgave her, but Jeez Louise, don't fly in from a different city and demand your host's oven AND microwave when she's planning a party for who knows how many people that she's never met, for cryng out loud.

                                                                      1. It depends.If I have people over I might ask someone to come help by holding a bowl or a platter steady so I can plate.I have no problem asking someone to lift a heavy dish out of the oven for me or opening wine.Actual food prep? Like washing produce....slicing dicing....butchering meat if it is being served.....no I consider that my domain.

                                                                        1. I always welcome help in the kitchen, but mine is so small, few offer, and there is almost nowhere to put an assistant. What help I DO have on a regular basis ( that I really could do without) is left-brained control-freak Spousal Equivalent, who keeps putting food back in the fridge, wipes down the stove while I am still cooking, but cant seem to figure out how to move a dirty dish 18 inches from the sink to the dishwasher. His OCD fear of germs means I am not allowed to use wooden spoons, and if I occasionally use a wooden cutting board under cooked meat, his head nearly explodes. I'd gladly trade this for someone who needs a little coaching while they chop the salad or set the table for me.

                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                            A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

                                                                            1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                              I read that research has proven that the tannins in wooden spoons and cutting boards make them safer to use than plastic or metal. The tannins actually kill germs.

                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                I thought it was that while wood absorbs bacteria and stains it doesn't release them. but I could be wrong.

                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                  I could be wrong as well. It's been ten years since culinary school. I just remember that wood is safe, you just have to clean. Just like any cutting board, although some wood ones can't go in the dishwasher.

                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                    I remember an article in the Times less than 10 years ago, that proved that wood was safer than plastic, as previously believed. The details I don't have at hand unfortunately. But sanitizing wood was a lot more effective than plastic.

                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                      that's the only part I do remember - wood vs. plastic. the exact 'why' is where I get fuzzy. ehh there's probably (probably - yeah right) a thread on that somewhere here.

                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                        I'm 51 years old. My wooden cutting board is older than I am. I cut everything on it from chicken to fish to vegetables. I'm careful to clean it between meats and veggies. It's never caused a problem.

                                                                                2. re: JMF

                                                                                  Oh, if only! This guy would like to autoclave everything in the kitchen that even passes within a food of raw chicken; and yet his idea of "washing" dishes consists of rinsing them with tepid water (because heating the water costs kilowatts) and leaving them in the dish drainer. I come along behind him and load them into the dishwasher. He's also afraid of raw meat (in its supermarket packages) touching OTHER raw meat (also wrapped from the store). If I bring home more than one of these items and allow them to sit on top of each other in the fridge, I get a cranky lecture. Reminding him that everything touched everything else in the store and on the way home in the bags doesn't defuse this argument. He wants me to use glass cutting boards, and I refuse - I hate what it does to my knives. I use the beautiful wooden boards when he's not around, and keep a few plastic ones on hand for his benefit. One must choose one's battles.

                                                                                  1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                    did you ever see Phil Hartman's SNL character "The Anal-Retentive Chef"? IIRC anything potentially contaminated got wrapped in foil, placed in a zip-lock bag, placed in a paper bag, the top folded over at least twice and stapled exactly 3X. while that went on the whisked eggs had sat out a bit to long (in his opinion) too long so he'd start over and they had their own process for disposal.

                                                                                  1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                    Cheflambo- back in th early days of our marriage i would get up in the middle of the night, and NO SHIT the bed would be made when I got back. I feel your pain.

                                                                                  2. I only have a problem if they mishandle the tools. My uncle likes to take over when we have family meals and since he's a skilled cook, I'm not too worried.
                                                                                    But if someone is man handling things I have no issue saying something to them and kicking them out if need be.

                                                                                    1. I hate anyone using my kitchen. If a guest asks "Is there anything I can do" I usually say "Yes, sit there and talk to me".

                                                                                      My Mum often says she likes coming to visit as I will just sit her down, whereas my sister will get her doing no end of tasks.

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: PhilipS

                                                                                        I had a dinner guest read to me from a book while I was cooking. It was a book he was going to lend me anyway, so he 'got me started on it'.

                                                                                          1. re: Motosport

                                                                                            Gah! No. Some fiction about the life of a guy with extra legs.

                                                                                        1. re: PhilipS

                                                                                          The worst was when my mother was alive she'd call as we were leaving to say pick up ice and sour cream and always something slightly exotic. The thing was, it was always Christmas day or Easter or 4th of July or some stupid time when all the stores were closed and you had to find a place tat was open and... Oh jeez- so tired of it still

                                                                                        2. I agree with most of the sentiments here.
                                                                                          I'm a control freak by nature, so it's easier for me to do my own thing in the kitchen. I know what I want to get done, and how to do it. I am also extremely picky on how my cookware is treated and handled. I don't use metal utensils in my pots and pans, and avoid doing things with my knives that would prematurely dull or damage them. Not to mention I would prefer to make a mistake or burn something, than have a guest do so. Let me also add that I am EXTREMELY anal when it comes to cleanliness and sanitation. I know how clean my hands are when I wash them and handle my food. I'm not always confident about other's hand washing practices.

                                                                                          If a guest wants to help out, I can always use assitance in tidying and setting the table and dinner area, and cleaning up afterwards. For some reason, there's never much enthusiasm to do so!

                                                                                          1. This thread makes me giggle.

                                                                                            I am a control freak in my kitchen. Not about cooking, it is the clean up "help" that can drive me to near tears.

                                                                                            Not many of my friends cook. Cooking to them is openning a bag of frozen veggies. I have relatives that will help at family meals and that is a joy. They might not do it my way but we always have fun.

                                                                                            But OMG, the clean up "help" drives me nuts. My husband is the worst offender. When we have guests, I prefer to carry dirty dishes/utensils into the kitchen and put them right into the dishwasher. This is done out of view of the guests and takes me maybe a minute. I have my system, the dishwasher is empty and ready to go, including soap in the dispenser. In go the dishes and I hit the button. Any items that doesn't fit can wait until guest leave, no big deal.

                                                                                            My husband, on the other hand, is a master stacker. He will devote 10x the energy creating towering piles of plates, dishes, cups, glasses, etc. that look like a Dr. Seuss illustration. His clanging and banging around it as far more distracting to our guests then me silently slipping a couple of plates into the dishwasher.

                                                                                            It is almost comical the way I watch him out of the corner of my eye. When I see him starting to fidget, I leap into action to beat him to the kitchen. His "stacking" creates so much more work for me. He realizes it but his OCD kicks in and he can't control the urge to stack.

                                                                                            I just don't know why he can't do things my way :)

                                                                                            I do give up the fight at big holiday meals. I will grab a bottle of wine and move to another part of the house and let someone else battle his stacks.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                              "My husband, on the other hand, is a master stacker. He will devote 10x the energy creating towering piles of plates, dishes, cups, glasses, etc. that look like a Dr. Seuss illustration."

                                                                                              Oh, the sympathy and empathy I have for you, cleobeach! I have a Mr. cut of the same Seussian cloth. I know my kitchen doesn't have an very enviable amount of counterspace surrounding the sink, but does *every* bit of tableware from a meal for a dozen people need to exist in a stack with only a dinner plate's size footprint? To be fair, I give him some grudging (and admiring) credit for the ingenuity and Jenga-like steadiness involved, but deconstructing the vertical monster takes too much finesse and artistic understanding than I am willing to give oftentimes. No dishwasher here; but I can wash a sinkload of dishes while he's still figuring out his skyscraper's foundation. <Sigh> At least the chap has a consistent aesthetic. AND, just as often as I do, undertakes the de-construction, so my gripe is largely academic.

                                                                                              1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                but deconstructing the vertical monster takes too much finesse and artistic understanding than I am willing to give oftentimes. No dishwasher here; but I can wash a sinkload of dishes while he's still figuring out his skyscraper's foundation.

                                                                                                My sister!

                                                                                                My mother needs to flee when he starts the stacks, which have toppled over more than once. (She doesn't cook but fiercely guards her kitchen against germs and irresponsible use of paper towels.).

                                                                                                Many a wine glass were lost to the foundation creation and no bare spot is left under utilized.I learned to buy party glasses in bulk.

                                                                                                1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                  Party glasses in bulk, indeed, in this situation (Target and IKEA are BFFs in this)! My control freak is *more* satisfied having breakage in the 1$ range, v. the 10$ (or waaaay above my budget!) range. Cheap is one of my control freak issues when it matters, and it seems to matter more than we think it should, really.

                                                                                              2. I like to cook my own things because I know what I want and am a good cook, whereas most of my friends can't even hold a knife correctly to cut things. I practiced a lot on holding a knife like chef's on Food Network and am good at it, and am always amazed at the lack of knife skills in people who have to cook. However, getting to the cleanup. Since I am alone now, its not a problem - no big entertaining. But my precious husband of 52 years, who I lost, was the best. We just left the dishes in the kitchen, stacked for morning. Granted we had a nice amount of counter space. He was an early riser and by the time I woke in the morning, the kitchen was spotless. Now that's the way to go - guests weren't made to feel like they had to help or feel guilty and he did it all when I was asleep.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: happygoluckyinoregon

                                                                                                  Jealous! Sorry for your loss, you must miss him!

                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                    I miss him every day ! Its been l0 years and its like yesterday, but I have good memories and good friends. thanks for your kind thoughts to someone you don't even know . Aren't we humans a unique species:-) ?

                                                                                                    1. re: happygoluckyinoregon

                                                                                                      Better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all. Ain't it the truth, even if I'm quoting it out of context.

                                                                                                2. Just as Jacques Pépin (he literally wrote the book on Technique) claims his mother in France cooked her delicious food with a dull utility knife, cutting veggies and such against her thumb, so did my grandmother and mother, both great home cooks.
                                                                                                  I think that 'knife skills' are overrated in home kitchens today with many people insisting that the quality of the home cooked meal depends on the cooks 'knife skills'. I find that the amount of passion and love that goes into home cooking shines through much brighter than doing it like we see on TV cooking shows that make us feel inferior to the celebrities that are not allowed by the TV producers to be cooking on TV unless they have these prized "knife skills".

                                                                                                  That said, I was never able to use that dull utility knife against my thumb to cut anything, garlic, celery, apples, etc.
                                                                                                  I learned to use on my own the one chefs knife we had at home and the cutting board, that was used more often as a trivet by my mom and grandmother.

                                                                                                  I teach my children the "proper" knife skills they need to cook at home, if not only because I do not own a dull utilty knife and the sharp knives that are in the kitchen, chefs knives, pairing knives, etc., can be dangerous if improperly used. Does that make me a 'control freak' ? I hope not.

                                                                                                  As for others cooking in my kitchen? Well, the fun we have with the kids helping prepare a meal and when people visit and we all get involved, chopping, sautéing, and eating what we all made together, sharing it and "taking it all in" outweighs the 'proper methods' that we are told we need to have .. on TV.

                                                                                                  Also, funny, nobody seems to reach for the 12" Wüsthof chefs knife in my kitchen anyways. They always seem to go for the other knives, that are easier for them to handle. Keeping it nice and sharp for me and also keeping it out of the dishwasher, which is the probably the only pet peeve I can be a "control freak" about.


                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                    I didn't realize there was a name for the way I have been cutting things for as long as I remember - "Cutting against the thumb!"
                                                                                                    You still need a reasonably sharp to do that! Growing up, every one I watched in the kitchen would never have dreamed of using a cutting board to dice Onions, Potatoes, Carrots and similar, it was all done against the thumb. Although I own nowadays a beautiful cutting board and sharp knives, I still catch myself to slice these straight into the pot/pan like that, I am just faster that way. And using a sharp knife in this fashion, I never cut myself with this method.
                                                                                                    Sorry for going a bit off topic!

                                                                                                    1. re: RUK

                                                                                                      "Cutting against the thumb"

                                                                                                      I think that's how Jacques Pépin phrased it. ?

                                                                                                      I want to believe that even though you don't follow "proper knife techniques" as we are told we need to have, you are a very good home cook.

                                                                                                      "...slice these straight into the pot/pan like that..."

                                                                                                      I'm curious, do you slice the ingredients into a hot pot/pan in a French restaurant cooking technique or do you slice the ingredients into a cold pot/pan in a more traditional home cooking Mediterranean style?

                                                                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                        Not sure in what style I am cooking, but I chop say an Onion into a hot pan started up with Olive Oil or slice Carrots into a cold pot, add liquid and start to cook. Potatoes can be "chunked" easily into a hot broth/soup etc.

                                                                                                    2. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                      So tell me, how do you slice up a banana? (for the record, in our house I use a sharp paring knife, my husband a table knife). I grew up with a mom that "cut against the thumb" but generally grab my 10" Henckels chef knife for most cutting tasks.

                                                                                                      1. re: firecooked

                                                                                                        I usually use a large paring knife and a cutting board. But I have used other knives at times, if I was cutting other fruit as well and, say, a larger knife was needed. If I am slicing bananas for the kids breakfast cereal, I have been caught using a table knife. :-)

                                                                                                    3. I have a lot of expensive pots, knives, appliances that your average home cook doesn't. I enjoy cooking and luckily when my mom is over she asks IF she can do something and what I would like her to use to do it. I like her in there and set her a task so we can chat. For a long time I took for granted that people "knew" the best way to do things (wood cutting board vs glass for veg chopping) (Chef knife versus dull serrated bread knife to cut onions) etc, but most people do not and do things the hard way. Not to mention, I have had items ruined by people loading them in the dishwasher (temp guages, wooden cutting board, appliance pieces, delicate glassware...) At the end of the day, I am happy to have people help, but have no problem instructing them "nicely" when something they are doing could jeopardize my tools.

                                                                                                      1. This thread should be called ":rich people in the kitchen" .

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: rochfood

                                                                                                          No. I know plenty of people of modest means who are pretty freakin' clueless in the kitchen, too.

                                                                                                        2. My kitchen is tiny and one other person in it gets in my way. Also, I have had well-meaning helpers in a hurry do terrible things like dump sterling silver flatware in the garbage and break good china. Therefore I am absolutely 100% inflexibly firm: NO HELP PLEASE. It is your kitchen. Unless you live in a group home, you don't have to let other people cook in your kitchen. (I am assuming you are talking about guests and not roommates or spouse, in which case it's a whole other issue.) But if it's guests, there is a current fad that cooking has to be a shared party event (vd any episode of "House Hunters" on HGTV). It doesn't. Run your kitchen as you want.

                                                                                                          1. I'm completely a control freak in my kitchen!

                                                                                                            What also drives me nuts is when I invite people over for dinner, and they INSIST on bringing something. Well...no...please don't. I invited you over, just come and enjoy it. Do not feel that you have to contribute. Return the favor sometime, and invite me to your house without making me feel that I have to bring something :-)

                                                                                                            1. I just had houseguests that have now left.... earlier than expected thank goodness!! The night they arrived I cooked dinner, as this is what I do for my guests. The next night (I suppose this is with good intentions) they told me they were cooking dinner. We were not even asked if we were comfortable with this. Ok, fine, although not thrilled about this I rolled with it. Being that we have some cultural differences I was a bit worried. Especially when they showed up with unrefrigerated left overs from their previous nights meal, after a 10 hour plane ride. Although I expressed my concern with food poisoning, they argued that cooked chicken is fine after 24 hours of no refrigeration!! Long story short, they made us dinner. The next night I planned to make dinner, but was bluntly told that they would be making dinner again, in my kitchen. When I suggested incorporating some of the food that I had previously purchased she acted offended and rudely scoffed.... fine, whatever, we can do it your way. Needless to say I was fed up with this, plus other rude behaviour. Never again!!

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: elainakay123456

                                                                                                                Oh my.

                                                                                                                No doubt they were just trying to repay your hospitality but what type of person flies (for 10 hours!!!) with leftovers? Sounds like there are other issues at play.

                                                                                                                1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                  The only repay I've ever had was being taken out to dinner. Which I love! I would be freaking out in this situation on so many levels.

                                                                                                                2. re: elainakay123456

                                                                                                                  Flying with leftovers, that is funny. Almost worthy of its own thread! While I am a big-time meal packer when I fly, I've never thought to pack leftovers.

                                                                                                                  1. re: elainakay123456

                                                                                                                    My mother in law brings food on a four hour flight. It's usually cooked beef, beef innards, chicken gizzards. She usually brings it frozen and it's still somewhere between frozen and very cold when they arrive, so it doesn't have me worried.

                                                                                                                    She also brings me Sri Lankan chilli powder, which is hotter than the chilli powder I can get locally, as well as jaggery and other things. It's all appreciated. Actually, more accurate to say requested. I don't like running out of Sri Lankan chilli powder.

                                                                                                                    It's a cultural thing. :)

                                                                                                                  2. I like to cook. I have really pricey cookware, expensive knives, etc. I tend to be more hover-y than I should in the kitchen due to that...but what really gets me is watching someone cook who is using poor/incorrect technique. It's hard to bite my tongue!

                                                                                                                    1. I used to be a control freak, but now that I live alone I LOVE having my kitchen full of people, helping or not. Don't care if they do things wrong, don't care if they occasionally break things. The kitchen is small, music is on, everyone is drinking good wine and laughing, and the food is almost always terrific. The evening does end with me taking my knives and wooden utensils out of the dishwasher, and sometimes weeks will go by before a certain spice will resurface. Who cares?

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. It depends on the person really as to how much this bothers me. Some people I would actually welcome the help, others I would prefer they didn't at all. I think I might be a little more particular when it comes to cleaning up, though. I try to talk anyone out of trying to do the dishes, if offered. This is going to sound super OCD, but I've watched other people do dishes before and very rarely do they sufficently clean them to my standards.

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                                                          I have the same problem with certain people, who also are the ones that always manage to break something.The morning after tends to be very obnoxious, with lots of complaining on my part.

                                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                                            Lol. The worst part is that cleaning my kitchen has become a gesture viewed as sweet and helpful by guys I have dated. I have had about 3 different guys do my dishes before while I was in the shower. I walk out and I just have to try to be excited. Of course I do appreciate the thoughtfulnees, but it's not nearly has helpful to me as they think it is!!

                                                                                                                            1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                                                              I also hate people who want to put stuff in the dishwasher for me, but argue when I say no knives, no wooden bowls and so on.

                                                                                                                              I do have one group of friends who do a great job secretly, while I'm still relaxing at the table.....they even sweep the floor and put all the dishes and stuff away although sometimes it takes a few days to locate everything ;-)

                                                                                                                          2. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                                                            I've been lucky. My guests who've helped have all been great.

                                                                                                                          3. Occasionally I will ask for a hand in the kitchen, but it is usually almost literally just that...a hand. Like, "could you hold this for a second" or "could you grab that for me real quick." Most of my friends know me well enough to know to stay the hell out of my way unless/until I ask for that hand. I do a lot of cooking and hosting and they all love to be invited over for a meal and are happy to help if I ask, but I do prefer to do almost everything myself.

                                                                                                                            However, there is one guy who we have had over who just hasn't gotten the memo. He will frequently bring something to share, which is fine, but will require something on my end to finish it. For example, for our last Christmas party. 20 people and I was doing dinner all by myself. I told people they could bring prepared appetizers if they wanted to but it was not necessary. Had a few people bring stuff like deviled eggs or crackers and cream cheese dip. So our clueless friend -- who, by the way, is also always notoriously late -- shows up about 2 hours after I told people to bring apps if they were bringing apps. Right about when I'm about to serve dinner (I had about 20 minutes of prep left, was just about to pull the meat out of the oven, finishing sauteeing one of the sides, etc.) He strolls in, dumps a bagful of stuff on my table (space I needed) and says he needs a bowl and a spoon to make his appetizer. I think I must have looked at him like he had three heads and my girlfriends who were keeping me company in the kitchen and watching me work while the boys watched Die Hard in the living room, probably thought there was going to be a homicide.

                                                                                                                            I know it doesn't sound like much, but when I'm getting dinner for 20 together, you don't come waltzing into my kitchen demanding anything except a drink, which my girlfriends will get for you...or you can get yourself, since that's the way we roll around here.

                                                                                                                            1. I am a very easygoing person and generally like to cook with others. However - a few years ago i had a summer cookout party, and a guest (who arrived two hours after mealtime) handed me a can of baked beans and asked me to put them in a casserole and heat them up in the microwave for her. I found that a little difficult to take. Later, I discovered that she had been the star of a "Hoarders" episode, so I now forgive her, she must have had larger problems than me.