"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > The Back Porch > Off Topic Discussions
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-20-2007, 12:15 AM   #1
Head Chef
 
keltin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Down South in Alabama
Posts: 2,285
Send a message via AIM to keltin
When do you know that you're a good cook?

How do you know when you’re a decent or good cook? Sure, there are the accolades from those that eat your food, and the admiration you get from guests, but we all know, that the worst critic is yourself. I always see the bad before I see the good.

When I was young and growing up, I ate fast food a lot and TV dinners. I STILL eat fast food and TV dinners on occasion when in a hurry. But, as I was learning to cook, I decided that I wasn’t very good until I could cook everything that I bought in TV dinners or fast food spots or dinners without a recipe.

Also, added to that was the challenge of having the ability to take any given written recipe and prepare it (at 18 years of age, the first “big” recipe I cooked was Coq au Vin…although I had to get a friend to buy the wine/burgundy and come to my apartment for dinner!). I finally worked my way up, and am now challenged by the 5 star restaurants. Man, the stuff they cook and the ingredients they get to use. And the improvisation they have on Iron Chef. Wow.

I may never get there….but it sure is fun trying!

Heck, not long ago we did a dinner party for some friends and it was “suthern food” and lots of gabbing. We had roast & gravy, mashed potatoes, carrot slices in butter, ginger and white wine, fresh green beans, and corn bread with garlic and herbed butter. Easy enough…..but I used Katie’s roast recipe that I learned here on DC, and wow, all they could do was talk about the roast and ask for seconds (and the recipe!). That roast really is “all that”.

So, when and how did you finally decide you were decent at cooking….maybe not 5 star, but good enough to wow your guests (and that really only takes one “signature” dish and meal to do so!)? And let’s not be over-inflated, I’ve got a LOT to learn, and I’m sure most agree that we will never learn it all…but the question is, when did you feel “confident” that you could serve others without buying from a deli? When do you feel proud of yourself (even if you are standing on the shoulders of giants)? How do you challenge yourself?

__________________

__________________
keltin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2007, 01:59 AM   #2
Traveling Welcome Wagon
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Somewhere, US
Posts: 15,716
I think the first hint I had was when I made chop suey and I realized it was as good as my mom's. I was so excited that I think I even jumped up and down! Another thing that lets me know is when I bring something to a church supper and I hear people complimenting what I brought and going back for more (when they don't have a clue who made it). But my main gauge is how close my cooking comes to my mom's.

Barbara
__________________

__________________
Barbara L is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2007, 09:25 AM   #3
Chef Extraordinaire
 
GotGarlic's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Southeastern Virginia
Posts: 19,791
Quote:
Originally Posted by keltin View Post
How do you know when you’re a decent or good cook? Sure, there are the accolades from those that eat your food, and the admiration you get from guests, but we all know, that the worst critic is yourself. I always see the bad before I see the good.
My hint is when DH affectionately calls a new dish junk - as in, "That was some seriously good junk." It means I should add it to my repertoire. Also, he secretly says my lasagna is better than his mom's

And when I take a dish to a neighborhood pot luck and it gets lots of compliments, I take that as a good sign, too

I know my cooking improved immensely when I took a class on cooking with fresh herbs and I discovered the difference between using fresh and dried herbs (for the most part - there are a few dried herbs I like to use).
__________________
The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you're hungry again. ~ George Miller
GotGarlic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2007, 12:07 PM   #4
Executive Chef
 
AllenOK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA, Oklahoma
Posts: 3,463
As with all things, I think a lot of it is experience, and judging people's reactions.

If you attend church dinners, pot-luck's, etc., on a frequent basis, and people always compliment your food and/or ask for the recipe, then in my eyes, yes, you are a good cook.

Since I work in the industry, I have to go by a few different guidelines, i.e., did the customers actually order, eat, and enjoy the specials I created? Are they happy with their meals?

Another trick that I use is to have a few other cooks try the food I'm making. Many of these cooks have more experience than I do, and some of them can cook circles around me. If THEY like it, I know it's good.

For instance, last week, we ran Cajun BBQ'ed Shrimp with Dirty Rice as one of our two specials. Friday night, we sold AT LEAST 14 orders of the stuff, out of 40 or so people that came in. Not only that, but my Sous Chef, and a couple other cooks, could NOT stay out of the Dirty Rice I made.
__________________
Peace, Love, and Vegetable Rights!
Eat Meat and Save the Plants!
AllenOK is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2007, 12:15 PM   #5
Head Chef
 
keltin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Down South in Alabama
Posts: 2,285
Send a message via AIM to keltin
Does anyone have (or had) specific goals or landmarks? When I was learning to smoke (use a smoker for BBQ), I started small and worked my way up. The ultimate goal was to do a brisket which is one of the hardest meats to smoke correctly. I finally did it. It turned out great, and I considered it a nice accomplishment.
__________________
keltin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2007, 12:26 PM   #6
Executive Chef
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 4,630
Quote:
Originally Posted by keltin View Post
Does anyone have (or had) specific goals or landmarks?
Rotisserie Pig and a Brisket.
When can I be a self proclaimed Pit Master?

Good cooks can make something out of nothing, know proper tecniques and wind up with clean plates after a meal.
__________________
Jeekinz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2007, 12:42 PM   #7
Chef Extraordinaire
 
Katie H's Avatar
Site Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: I live in the Heartland of the United States - Western Kentucky
Posts: 15,531
Growing up I didn't have any family members that I could have used as examples of good cooks. My birth mother was an average cook and my maternal grandmother was mediocre at best, so I was on my own when it came to cooking. Fortunately, we did eat out enough that I learned what really good food could be.

I began cooking for my family when I was about 8- or 10-years old because I was the oldest and the task fell on my shoulders. I could've hated cooking but, instead, discovered I loved it.

Early in my first marriage, I had a Russian neighbor who was the most incredible cook. She became a dear, dear friend and we shared recipes and techniques. She was almost like a mother to me. Every time I prepare an untried recipe she gave me (she gave me 3-inch stacks regularly), we can always count on it being wonderful. Buck never questions a "Kittie" recipe, just looks forward to it.

Over the years I've become known as a good and skilled cook and often am asked for a recipe or for advice. That humbles me and also tells me I must've learned something along the way.

Even though when we were raising our 5 children it seemed like I was running a mess hall, everyone always cleaned their plates. Leftovers were essentially nonexistent in our house. Thankfully, all the children know their way around a kitchen quite well.

Whenever I bring dishes to potluck events or friend/family gatherings, they are gobbled up and, more often than not, I'm asked for the recipe.

So, I guess this answer is a bit Goodweed-like, but because my family and friends seem to love my cooking, I guess I would have to say their reactions tell me I've become a good cook.
__________________
"As a girl I had zero interest in the stove." - Julia Child
This is real inspiration. Look what Julia became!
Katie H is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2007, 02:03 PM   #8
Executive Chef
 
VeraBlue's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: northern NJ
Posts: 3,683
Personally, I believe it's a feeling you get the very first time you step foot in the kitchen to do the cooking.

Either you feel it, or you don't. If you are uncomfortable in there, for whatever reason, you'll never be a good cook. It's more than being able to create sans recipe, which in and of itself is the sign of talent. But, if it's from your heart, and not out of obligation, (and you didn't poison anyone) it's going to be good. It's the spirit of the cook that comes through.
__________________
How can we sleep while our beds are burning???
VeraBlue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2007, 02:19 PM   #9
Master Chef
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Metro New York
Posts: 8,763
Send a message via Yahoo to ChefJune
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenOK View Post
For instance, last week, we ran Cajun BBQ'ed Shrimp with Dirty Rice as one of our two specials. Friday night, we sold AT LEAST 14 orders of the stuff, out of 40 or so people that came in. Not only that, but my Sous Chef, and a couple other cooks, could NOT stay out of the Dirty Rice I made.
and you didn't save me ANY?

I love Dirty Rice!
__________________
Wine is the food that completes the meal.
ChefJune is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2007, 02:23 PM   #10
Master Chef
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Metro New York
Posts: 8,763
Send a message via Yahoo to ChefJune
Quote:
How do you know when you’re a decent or good cook?
Truly, Keltin, some people never know. My Aunt loved to cook, but her food was mostly pretty awful. She'd ask if we wanted to take home leftovers, and we had to say yes, but then later we'd throw it away. She thought it was good!

My dad used to say that you could give her and my mom identical bags of groceries and the same recipes, and any resemblance between what the two would get for results would be "purely coincidental!"

Mostly, tho, I think you just "know" when or if you get to the level where you just "know" that what you're turning out is really good. You have to trust your taste buds.

My all-time best compliment was when I heard my Mom telling one of her friends that I was a "much better" cook than she was. My mom BURNED!
__________________

__________________
Wine is the food that completes the meal.
ChefJune is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



» Discuss Cooking on Facebook


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:07 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.