Learning to cook is a necessary survival skill, but for many individuals, the enjoyment of cooking or baking far supersedes daily nourishment.
Instead, they view it as a way to be creative, gain insights into different cultures and flavors, and share experiences with loved ones. If this sounds like you, then there is a good chance that you will always be looking for ways to enhance your abilities.
From the knives you need to the benefits of culinary classes and the importance of organizing your space, read on to learn some essential steps for improving your culinary skills this year.
1. Upgrade your tools
The best chefs and bakers know that the tools you use are among the most critical aspects affecting the outcome of their cooking. For this reason, if you want to improve your culinary skills, you need to work with the appropriate tools.
Keep in mind that you don’t need a lot; you simply need what you have to be of high quality. Every kitchen needs some basic tools, including skillets, a cutting board, pots and pans, a selection of measuring spoons and cups, and a sheet tray.
Additionally, a high-quality knife set is going to make your culinary experiences a lot more pleasant. In your knife set, you want to have a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife. These three types of knives will ensure you have your bases covered. When looking to purchase a high-quality knife set, make sure you pay attention to the shape and material construction.
If you are a beginner baker, you will need some essential tools, too, including wooden spoons, rubber spatulas, metal turners, pastry brushes, and whisks. You also want to have on hand kitchen scissors, a rolling pin, a fine-mesh sieve, various baking pans and sheets, and parchment paper.
A hand mixer is also helpful for mixing ingredients. If you are more advanced, you may want to have a pastry blender, an offset spatula, a zester (for lemon drizzle!), pastry wheel, and food processor.
2. Commit to study weekly
One of the best ways to improve your culinary skills is to make food-related reading a daily (or weekly) habit. There are a wide variety of resources that you can use to learn more about cooking, so you are guaranteed to find a format that works for you and your learning style.
For example, if you learn better visually, then you may want to watch video tutorials or cooking TV shows. Alternatively, if you are interested in the history of food or other related-intellectual topics, you may prefer listening to podcasts while you prepare a meal or perform other tasks.
Of course, the written word is always an option. There are cookbooks, magazines, blogs, and forums that you can read to learn tips and tricks to improve your culinary skills.
If you are interested in learning more about specific cuisines or dishes, then reading a magazine article or a blog post is a fantastic option. Moreover, if you are looking to expand your repertoire to include more vegetarian meals, gluten-free baked goods, or other specialty items, then you can undoubtedly find a cookbook that will help facilitate your learning.
3. Register for a course
There is no denying that one of the best ways to improve your skills is to register for a culinary course. Whether you are looking to learn the basics or are interested in developing more advanced capabilities, there is certainly a course that fits your interests and future plans.
Of course, if you are looking to have a career in the culinary arts, you need specialized education. On the other hand, if you want to turn your cooking or baking passion into a job, it is also advised that you have some formal culinary education.
For example, if you are considering a career in creative baking or cake decoration, you will want to have a look at cake piping courses. Alternatively, if you want to be a chef, you should certainly consider attending culinary school. Whatever the case, these courses and programs exist to ensure that you have the educational background necessary to achieve your goals.
When considering potential courses or programs, you want to be looking at schools that have high academic standards and are renowned in their department and location.
After all, you want to choose an educational institution that can help you network and find potential mentors. In addition, attending courses is a fantastic way to boost your resume and access more career opportunities.
4. Organize your kitchen.
Let’s be honest; almost nothing incredible can be served if the environment it was prepared in is a complete mess. Therefore, you want to make sure that you are cooking or baking in an organized space.
The first step is to remove everything from your cupboards and drawers and take inventory of what you have. Then you’ll see what you need to purchase, what needs replacing, and what can be donated or thrown away.
This is also the ideal time to do a deep clean of the space and designate specific zones in your kitchen. For example, in one easy-to-access area, you may have all your everyday tools such as plates, bowls, essential glassware, cups, and cutlery. You may have a specific drawer for baking toppings, accessories and storage, and another section for all your tools.
If you are an avid cook or baker, then there is a good chance that you have a vast selection of items that need to be organized. In this case, you may have to get creative with your ideas.
For example, you may need to install a hanging rack for pots and pans if you don’t have enough cupboard space, or utilize wall space to hang magnetic knife holders or fresh hanging herbs. Additionally, drawer organizers and dividers can significantly help keep everything arranged, while pull-out units can bring much-needed extra storage.
Together, these four steps will significantly improve your culinary skills over the next twelve months.
Are you looking to improve your culinary skills this year? If so, what steps are you taking? Are you considering registering for a course or applying to culinary school?
Let us know your ideas and plans in the comments below!
Shanaaz Raja is the Course Director at International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai.