In every cook’s life, there comes a moment. It’s not a moment you can anticipate, but it’s certainly one you can prepare for. It’s the moment when you stop following recipes to the letter and start cooking based on what you know. Maybe it’s because of all those cooking shows where angry chefs rail against kitchen rookies for oversalting the cod or underseasoning the étouffée, but we’ve become a nation of nervous Nellies in the kitchen.
Most people deal with their kitchen nerves by slavishly following recipes to the point where if a recipe calls for a half teaspoon of paprika and they only have a quarter teaspoon, they’ll turn off the oven and order a pizza. That’s no way to cook. This book is an attempt to change all that. Consider this book an insecurity killer, a confidence booster of epic proportions.
For a year, I cooked with the best chefs and home cooks in America. In the process of visiting eleven cities and fifty kitchens, I learned a thing or two about producing quality food at home. It has nothing to do with recipes and everything to do with trusting yourself in the kitchen. Great cooks are confident people. In a restaurant setting, chefs are leaders: they command roomfuls of fellow chefs and, through their leadership, feed hordes of hungry masses night after night.
Great home cooks also project great confidence, as they often face an even tougher crowd: picky spouses and cranky children. And though I’m becoming more confident in the kitchen, my status as a self-taught, amateur home cook with no formal training makes me an ideal candidate to soak up all the knowledge and wisdom that these chefs and cooks have to offer.