Becoming a chef takes years of working hard in professional kitchens, and over the years you definitely learn a thing or two about what it takes to be a good (and bad) cook.
But what advice would a top chef give the everyday home cook? Michelin-starred chef John Walton, Chef Patron at brand new Padstow cookery school, Mahé, certainly knows a thing or two about working in the fast-paced environment of a restaurant kitchen. Working under the likes of Marcus Wareing, Gordon Ramsay and Paul Ainsworth, John has moved quickly up the ranks, and is now one of the country's most well-regarded chefs.
And out of everything he's learned over the years, there's four things he thinks every home cook should know...
Never leave your kitchen knives in a sink of soapy water
It's easy to chuck dirty knives straight into a soapy, water-filled sink until you've finished cooking, but doing that could definitely cause a serious accident.
'You won't be able to see what's in the bottom of the sink, and you or someone else will cut themselves,' John warns.
Never work on a chopping board without a damp cloth underneath
Another big safety no-no, is using a chopping board without putting anything underneath it – with John always recommending using a damp cloth or wet paper towel.
'The damp towel will add friction to the board,' he says. 'This will stop it from moving unexpectedly when you're chopping, meaning you're less likely to cut yourself.'
Never serve a plate of food you haven't tasted yourself
Every great chef will taste their food as they go along, and at home this should be no exception. If you're hosting a dinner party, you want to make sure the food you're serving is the best it can be. By tasting as you go along you can ensure the flavours are just right.
'Dishes should be tasted at every stage and the seasoning adjusted accordingly,' says John. 'This way you can keep better control over the dish and avoid it being bland or accidentally over-seasoned.'
Never underestimate the power of salt
Salt is a chef's best friend thanks to its ability to improve and enhance both the flavours and texture of your dish. But are you using the right salt at the right time?
For things such as blanching veggies, table salt is fine to use, as it dissolves quickly in water, but when it comes to seasoning a dish, you should upgrade to sea salt.
'Sea salt is much more effective when seasoning a dish at the end,' John tells us. 'Its delicate crystals means it gives a much better texture and milder flavour.'
For more information about Mahé Cookery School and Chef's table, and to book a course, visit the Mahé website.
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