Learning from Cooking Shows

May 3rd, 2011 by Erin Gennow

Tuesday Tip

Learning from Cooking Shows

I’ve learned a tremendous amount about cooking and how to cook from watching cooking shows.  But let me clarify, I learned from shows that actually show and tell you how to cook, not the food and cooking competition shows.  Some shows I’ve learned from are Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals, Giada at Home, Barefoot Contessa, Tyler’s Ultimate, Good Eats, and Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.  I’ve learned everything from the way to cut an onion, how to sauté an onion, searing meats, and various flavor combinations.  Many of the television cooking hosts will give tips for prepping ingredients and ways to use various kitchen tools.

At times, I have believed some shows were too advanced, but I could still learn about what flavors go well together or pick up on certain prepping techniques.  30 Minute Meals is an excellent introductory show, because you see how to cook the entire meal, from prep to serving.  This is an excellent way to see how to multi-task in the kitchen, which is necessary in order to get the food done at the same time (and still hot).  As I mentioned in a previous article, I love Good Eats for learning the science behind a dish, and often look to Alton Brown’s recipes if I’ve never made a particular dish before.  A new favorite show of mine is Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.  Anne Burrell has a great way of explaining what she is doing and why, as well as just great phrases in general, which are good to keep in mind.  For example, when I saw her making Lasagna (as well as Tiramisu) she mentioned to “think of these dishes yesterday”, since they are better the next day.  Another phrase “You bought it, you might as well use it” and she will show you how to get every use out of an ingredient.

I will admit, I will watch some of the competition shows at times, like Iron Chef or Top Chef.  I know I won’t actually cook these dishes, but I like to get inspiration of unique and creative flavor combinations, that otherwise I may never think to put together.

So, if you’re feeling uninspired, or not quite sure how to cook something, look to some television shows.  You just learn something.


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