A home-cooked meal is satisfying, cost-effective, and usually healthier than any fast-food convenience or restaurant meal. But any home-cooking takes a little bit of planning and preparation. And, with that, the “sous chef” becomes one of the most important components to the ease and efficiency of placing a delicious meal on the table in a timely fashion.
Although “sous chef” indicates a professional position of “under-chef” to the head chef, every kitchen, whether it be in a restaurant or a home, has someone that helps prepare the ingredients before putting together a meal. So, why not, in your own home, enjoy the title and revel in the fact that as a sous chef you are preparing the necessary components progressing toward the final preparations of a meal.
- Ask questions. You can be very helpful by making sure all of the ingredients are gathered long before the meal is going to be prepared.
- Be observant. If there is some other way to help, do it. This basically means to stay a step ahead of what needs to be done.
- Check recipes. Another way to stay a step ahead of the “chef” doing the final preparation of the meal is to check the recipes and make sure all ingredients are close at hand.
- Cut and chop. If any items need to be washed or cleaned, cut or chopped, or prepared in any other way, look ahead and take care of these tasks.
- Line up ingredients. After ingredients have been prepared as per the recipe, place in bowls and line up in order of use.
- Clean up kitchen. Once ingredients have been prepared, clean up the kitchen. Wash bowls, utensils, and pots and pans, then be ready to do it all over again as more ingredients are prepared.
A perfect example with shrimp fried rice on the menu. As sous-chef:
Pre-cook rice and cool; chop green onion, carrots, and water chestnuts to appropriate sizes; chop and mince garlic; thaw peas; crack and beat a couple eggs in a small bowl; open cans of shrimp; and place in bowl.
Line up ingredients on the counter as they will be added.
Set up wok and seasonings ready for use.
Let your partner do his "chef" thing, and then...
Set table, and don't forget to place fortune cookies close at hand to end the meal with a smile.
But the best advice... as a personal sous chef... have a great time. Make it fun in the kitchen while the two of you cook together.
Then sit down and enjoy a great meal, stimulating conversation, and the satisfaction that the two of you created something delicious together.