Monday, March 26, 2012

I Can Cook & So Can You!


Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.
                                 ~ Marcel Boulestin


There are hundreds, if not thousands of secrets in the culinary world. If you were to lay down all of the secrets side by side, it would create a chain that could go around Earth twice. …Or something like that. These secrets are not guarded by a government agency dedicated to protecting kitchen techniques or recipes. They’re not on a need-to-know basis, nor are they illegal. Honestly, they’re not even secrets; they're things you haven't learned yet even though they're staring you right in the face. It’s the things the average person shrugs off while thinking, “This tastes so good. I’ll never be able to make something like this.” Or, “That Chef has trained for years in far off lands where people pray to cookbooks and children are taught knife skills before the alphabet.” 

Look, whether you believe me or not, cooking is simple. There is no formula to memorize, there’s no school you have to go to in order to be a great Chef (don’t get me started), and there are no secrets to making something extraordinary. All it takes is the will to learn. With that will, and a little time, you’ll find out that not only is cooking easy, but that for all these years, you’ve been paying hard earned money on meals you thought you couldn’t do at home.

The way I see it, everyone is equal. The hard working mom who cooks every night for her family can probably make a dish 10 times better than any celebrity Chef, especially King D-Bag, Guy Fieri. Seriously, if you don't know who that is, look up Tool in urban dictionary and I'll be surprised if you don't see his picture. If you're really in the dark, you can just scroll through Food Network Humor to get an idea (but not literally in the dark, he gives nightmares). What I’m saying is there are people who can create something amazing and unique, but that doesn’t mean they’re Culinary Gods and we should kiss the ground they walk on or watch their cooking shows and buy their ridiculously overpriced cookware. It just means they’ve been cooking for a long time and stuck with it. With the will and time, you can cook like a professional. Add the dedication and passion, and you can actually be a professional. Throw in the some hair dye, sunglasses with flames on them and a sports car that screams, “I’m a huge poser with a small penis”, and you can even be Guy Fieri.

When I went to culinary school (again – you really do not want to hear me talk about culinary school) I had no idea what I was doing. But I knew I needed a career so I learned everything I could. And when I got out of school, I started working as a slave cook in a hotel. Even though it only took me 1 day to realize I made a horrible mistake, I never stopped learning. Fast forward to today, and I’m still learning, always keeping an ear and eye out to what’s new and what looks good. With my “always learning” mentality, I’ve picked up countless techniques and recipes throughout my 10 years of being in the hospitality industry. I’ve learned secrets, debunked myths, and discovered hidden strengths and weaknesses. I’ve created dishes, wrote menus, and plated masterpieces. I’ve trained, managed and supervised entire kitchens. But on the other hand, I’ve also burned a lot of shit. I’ve overcooked, over seasoned, and over compensated. I've made plenty of messes, ruined pots and knives and broke equipment. I lost count of how many stitches I had to get, but I do know I have more scars from burns than I do knives. I could go on but I'll save myself the embarrassment since my list of mess ups outweigh the good.

The point I'm trying to make is simple: We all start somewhere. And no matter how long we’ve been at it, we all make mistakes and that shouldn't deter you from trying to cook something. I hear all too often that a recipe is beyond someone’s experience, and it irks me. Not because that person doesn’t have any faith in themselves, it doesn’t matter to me if you don’t believe in yourself, I won’t lose sleep over it. What gets to me is that cooking is so damn easy. Trust me, I’m not saying that because I went to culinary school (I know, a culinary school post is inevitable), I’m saying that because it’s the truth. This isn't science, recipes are not carved in stone, they're guidelines. There was not one job I had that I couldn’t find some guy off the street with no cooking experience whatsoever, and train him to work the line in less than a week.

Cooking has this rep that makes people believe it can only be accomplished by studying for years and working 7 days a week in a busy kitchen. But like I said, if you have the will and the time, that’s half the battle. If you get acquainted with as many ingredients as you can, know your spices, basic techniques and a few do’s and don’t's, then you’re set and ready to conquer the culinary world.

Just don’t try and conquer it with a soufflé. They make terrible ammunition and the only thing they will kill is your confidence.

Note: I am in no way, shape or form, attempting to talk you into, or saying it is ok to pursue a job in the restaurant industry. I'm saying it's ok to try to cook at home. Cooking at home and cooking professionally are two totally different things. It's like comparing relaxing in a pool on a lounge float while sipping a strawberry daiquiri vs. struggling on a life preserver in the middle of the ocean with a dozen hungry sharks circling you. Big difference. So don't do it. The same goes for culinary school. If you really want to study the Culinary Arts, give me $30,000 and I'll teach you everything they taught me, only better, plus I'll give you my degree.


  1. Carlos remember that kickass salad dressing you made once at fannys. How about posting that one? I wold love to have it now that my diet consist of bags of romaine lettuce from Costco...hehehehhehe

    1. Haha.. Ok, I'll post it.

      But on one condition - You pick up the damn phone when we call.