These are the most compelling and universal lessons that I learned from cooking with some of the best chefs in the world. Taken together, these tips should paint a clear portrait of what it means to know what you’re doing in the kitchen. If there’s one lesson to take away from this entire book, this is it. Cooking is not about blindly adding this and that and hoping that what you’re making comes out okay. Engage with the food you’re making and taste it every step of the way.
When it’s not to your liking, adjust it. Chefs don’t measure how much olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, or vinegar they add to a dish; they use these to adjust food as it cooks. To enrich food, they add fat. To heighten the flavor, they add salt. For a spicy kick, they add pepper. And for a sour edge, they add acid. It’s not just a neat trick to know about; it’s your job to use these tools to make your cooking great.
Once you understand that, your food will taste better forevermore. Too many times, we shop with a recipe in mind and come home with bags of ingredients to make that recipe, and whatever is left over gets shoved into the fridge. Great chefs and home cooks go to the market and buy what’s beautiful and in season. Then—and here’s the kicker—they display what they buy in baskets or bowls so that this food not only serves to make their homes beautiful (baskets full of radishes and turnips, bowls spilling over with Meyer lemons), it serves as inspiration for cooking.
Applying this to your own life, keep a basket on your kitchen counter and fill it with whatever you find at the market (purple potatoes, Bosc pears, parsnips, and apples in winter; heirloom tomatoes, chilies, squash, and corn in the summer), and use it to inspire what you cook