Lessons Learned in the Kitchen
With the holiday season almost upon us, bringing with it dinner party after cocktail party, it seemed wise to do a little examination of how we cook for large parties. Too often, most of us find ourselves having a minor kitchen meltdown and cursing the day we ever decided to have several of our nearest and dearest over.
Not exactly the point of gathering loved ones around a communal table, now is it?
Thankfully, Brie Aronson recently reflected on her experience as the farm chef for the large crew at Polyface Farm and came up with some good advice to keep your meal on track… and your peace of mind in tact.
I now have eleven weeks of cooking for the troops under my belt, which also means a catalog of lessons ranging from hurting feet, mediocre homemade bread, and piles of dirty dishes.
I offer you my list of what the kitchen is teaching me, which are all works-in-progress in my life. I think they can apply to anyone cooking for one to one hundred:
Wear good shoes. If you’re going to be standing there for more than an hour, it makes a world of difference.
Clean up as you go. You’ll be happier and feel less chaotic. And if you’re lucky enough to have someone who cleans up after dinner – they’ll be your biggest fan.
Cook slowly. Take the time to get your mise en place ready (French for “everything in place”). Rushing helps nothing in life. There are times that call for swift action but even these should not be done in a stressful frenzy. I don’t know about you, but I tend to do stupid things when I’m in a rush, like forgetting ingredients or slicing into my fingers. Setting myself up to be organized takes time, but it also frees me up for the spontaneous creativity that can occur when I’m in-the-moment with meal preparations.
If you are going to be cooking for a long period of time, be sure to nourish yourself at set times throughout the day. Tasting and checking for seasonings does not count and eating regular meals will help you be appropriately hungry and satisfied when it’s finally time to eat your handiwork.
This article originally appeared on PolyfaceHenHouse.com. It is partially posted here with permission from the author.
How do you keep your cool when cooking for large parties?
Photo Credit: Brie Aronson
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