Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
There are many ways to learn how to cook, from early childhood kitchen experiments to adult-level gourmet cooking classes. Some of the best cooks learned from their parents and grandparents, while others practiced recipes from cookbooks or television shows. Home economic classes in high schools often emphasize cooking meals using staple ingredients. Vocational schools may also offer two-year programs in commercial cooking, complete with the real-world experience of running an actual cafeteria or restaurant.
Because learning how to cook is such a hands-on experience, perhaps the best method is one-on-one training. Find a talented relative or a willing family friend and ask him or her to share his or her cooking experiences with you. Many amateur cooks enjoy playing the role of instructor and also benefit from an extra pair of hands. Be willing to do a lot of mundane prep work or cleaning chores in exchange for free cooking lessons. Many family food traditions are handed down from grandparents and other relatives, so take the opportunity to learn these recipes.
Some find it easier to learn how to cook by total immersion, meaning an actual job in a commercial kitchen. Quite often a local restaurant will offer on-the-job training for those who are willing to put in long hours or take on other responsibilities. Filling short orders during a busy breakfast or lunch shift will definitely allow beginning cooks to learn how different foods are prepared and how important organization can be. Preparing the same dishes over and over again may seem tedious, but it will help cooks develop a sixth sense about proper cooking times and presentation.
If your cooking goals include making appetizers for parties or a dessert for a covered dish dinner, quality cookbooks may be the best way to learn how to cook. Many modern cookbooks include explanations of cooking terms, plus step-by-step demonstrations of essential cooking methods such as braising and sautéing. Professional chefs may also appear in videos and DVDs which accompany these cookbooks. These audiovisual aids can be viewed over and over again before any cooking takes place. Cooking shows on TV have also become popular with beginning cooks. Many of these shows do take the time to explain the science behind cooking or the best kitchen tools to use for a particular recipe.
Those with some expendable income and a few hours to spare can enroll in adult cooking classes. Some continuing education programs offer one-day courses on specific themes such as cake decoration or microwave cooking, while others offer lengthier classes on gourmet cooking techniques or the business end of cooking. People who seek even more training in cooking can enroll in recognized food academies and culinary arts schools. After taking these courses and earning a certificate, many graduates go on to work as chefs in finer restaurants all over the world. Others use their new skills to teach others or start their own catering services. No matter what the reason, learning to cook is one of the most beneficial skills one could have as an adult.
Since experience is often the best teacher, any accomplished cook or professional chef will tell you that trial and error is necessary to learn how to cook. Don't be afraid to try to re-create a dish that you enjoyed in a restaurant or alter a recipe that you already have. Personal taste, local ingredients, and cultural background are all factors that contribute to the cooking style of any person--experiment and enjoy as you discover your own brand of cuisine!
@ ValleyFiah- Another way to learn how to cook is to go to tastings.
Many restaurants will offer occasional chef tastings where the executive chef personally cooks a multiple course meal. These are good opportunities to meet a chef and ask questions. You also learn about how different flavors complement one another.
You will be surprised to learn that many fine foods are very easy to prepare. It is the complement of flavors and details of preparation that make these dishes so tasty.
Wine and cheese tastings can also teach an aspiring chef about the characteristics of some important ingredients in many dishes. You will learn how to recognize the different aspects of taste. Taste, presentation, and preparation are the most important aspects of cooking.
If you live in a metropolitan area, you may be able to find private cooking classes or personal cooking instructors to help you learn how to cook. Private cooking lessons can offer instruction to individuals, groups, or couples. They will often teach you how to make a group of dishes, but more importantly, they will teach techniques that you can use in many different dishes.
Personal cooking instructors can be a little more expensive, but they can teach you in your home, or a kitchen modeled to resemble your own. You can also find personal instructors who suit your personal tastes. Some instructors may specialize in French cuisine, others simple American and grill cuisine, still others may have a Mediterranean style.
Learning how to cook is probably a must for everyone. Not everyone needs to become a chef, but knowing the basics is vital.
In the long run, when we cook ourselves we save money and we eat healthier. Also, we never know in what kind of situation we are going to find ourselves. And since we all have to eat, it just seems logical that knowing a little bit about cooking will come in handy sometimes in life.
So go into the kitchen and start with simple things. Scramble an egg, or cook some pasta; make some mashed potatoes or steam some vegetable. If the food does not taste as good the first or second time, it is OK, you are learning.
You might want to start in small batches, so if it does not turn out right, you have not wasted a lot of food.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!