Among the many skills that the chefs at the California Culinary Academy teach their students is a key and primary one: organization. "Plan your work, and wrk your plan," Chef Dan Fluharty says repeatedly when we have a deadline cooking assignment.
Making and carrying out a plan, in writing, is a must. And I find myself doing the same at home now, not just leaving to chance that the beans will be done on time or the meat will thaw. There's a regimen, and if that sounds too anal for you, you may just have to go hungry!
Seriously, culinary school has not only given me the beginning-level tools to work in a restaurant kitchen, it has taught me good meal combinations, what can be cooked or partly cooked in advance and how to store it appropriately. Getting organized, starting with the mise en place, is the key to success in the home kitchen and on the hot line in any restaurant.
Tonight's dinner will be a simple potato and leek soup, and Friday's holiday meal will be the aforementioned traditional Mexican fare -- highlighted by home-made tamales. For all of it, I have a plan and the ingredients all laid out. Tha's the mise en place.
Tune in later this week to read how it all has gone.