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Professional Cooks vs. Home Cooks


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#1 thistle

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:14 PM

if you start fixing different things at home, when you eat out, you are more likely to say, 'I could do this better myself', you kick yourself for paying too much (never figure in your hourly rate when cooking at home) & then you treat yourself to an excellent meal out, something that you couldn't or wouldn't want to try yourself...I hope you enjoyed slicing up that wahoo...sounds like an excellent meal...any rice or salad?

#2 DonRocks

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:31 PM

if you start fixing different things at home, when you eat out, you are more likely to say, 'I could do this better myself', you kick yourself for paying too much (never figure in your hourly rate when cooking at home) & then you treat yourself to an excellent meal out, something that you couldn't or wouldn't want to try yourself...I hope you enjoyed slicing up that wahoo...sounds like an excellent meal...any rice or salad?


Oh I already know I can do the majority of things better myself (it's not that hard on a small scale when you're not under a time crunch). My problem is a complete, total lack of technical prowess (knife skills, cooking experience, etc.). And this is not something that will change because cooking well (and I mean *really* cooking well as opposed to slapping together high-quality ingredients) involves a tremendous amount of skill and a commitment that I simply have not made. It takes years of experience and training and there are no short-cuts. It's the same reason I'll never be a great golfer even though I "could have been." It's just not going to happen.

It's the same reason I can walk through an art gallery and name every artist I see; yet, I can't even draw a straight line.

The "peripherals" (knowledge of ingredients, recipe design, flavor combinations, wine selections, etc.), I've got down pat, and can out-execute 99.9% of restaurants. That's why I'm such an odd bird.

Then there are the dishes.

Rice or salad? Goodness no. What on earth would lead you to believe that I have the time or inclination to make rice or a salad?! :lol:

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#3 thistle

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:58 PM

I think I have to disagree with you, because cooking well, either at home or in a restaurant, doesn't require a tremendous amount of skill or training (although some chefs have both), just an attention to detail, & an ability to improvise when things go wrong, like you're short an ingredient or you have less help then you anticipate, it's a balance of manual labor/prep, timing, & presentation-although diners who really appreciate good cooking are what every restaurant wants, so they do appreciate you...& cheese is amazing, all you have to do is find decent cheese, & cut it up....my favorite food! (I wish it was fish or salad, I'd be healthier).

#4 DaRiv18

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:21 PM

I agree with Rocks, it's not hard to do at home when it's small scale and without a time crunch. But most of us would get crushed inside a professional kitchen on a slow night. I like cooking at home but I don't feel ripped off when I go out to eat, most of the time. Also, including the value of your own personal free time should absolutely be factored into the cost of cooking at home.

"All martinis taste good but do not promote fine distinctions in taste or other areas of intellectual discrimination." Raymond Sokolov, How to Cook


#5 thistle

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:29 PM

But if you think you'd get crushed in a pro kitchen, how many of those diners do you think would know? I think any halfway decent kitchen could pick up the slack...a small amount of people can put out a great deal of decent food...

#6 DaRiv18

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:44 PM

Maybe we aren't talking about the same sorts of restaurants. I don't eat out that much at chain restaurants, I try just to do small businesses. Or visit specific chefs/bartenders at bigger ventures. I'm perfectly happy to eat a salad and roasted veggies at home vs. going to Applebees. Yes, I could also do dollar sushi better at home. I guess I just skip those places althogether and keep it simple at home.

EDIT: Ok, I see we are talking about "90% of ALL restaurants". I see where you are coming from. Still, I probably make better drinks at home than 90% of ALL bartenders in the city, but I would still get crushed slinging beers and vodka/red bulls.

I guess I don't pay much attention to the other 90% :D

Edited by DaRiv18, 04 December 2012 - 03:47 PM.

"All martinis taste good but do not promote fine distinctions in taste or other areas of intellectual discrimination." Raymond Sokolov, How to Cook


#7 thistle

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:04 PM

I hear you, I don't like chain restaurants either, but what many restaurants have mastered is predictability- the food will taste the same no matter who is cooking it, & that's not a small achievement. You'll definitely get better drinks at home- vodka/red bull? Sounds dangerous & possibly toxic...

#8 lperry

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:17 PM

Shoot. I thought it was going to be a contest. :P

#9 thistle

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:37 PM

If I'd known I'd be thrown into a pro vs home cooks debate, I'd try to muster up a better argument, but I've never worked as a pro chef, just a waitress, so I'm obviously flying blind... just like any professional or athlete, the more you do it, the better you are...if you work 6-8 hours on the line, you probably cook better than the home cook, at least lots of food for lots of people, but to cook for 1-4 people in 30-60 minutes? It's not that difficult...although trying to cook something new & interesting every day is...

#10 hm212

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:50 PM

I can definitely cook better than 90% of "chain family restaurants" - I will just go because it is easier, I don't have to prep, have anything from the store and no clean up. not cheaper or better but easier.

Nice upper end - That is where I go for something I can't get at home.

#11 Barbara

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 10:59 PM

I can definitely cook better than 90% of "chain family restaurants" - I will just go because it is easier, I don't have to prep, have anything from the store and no clean up. not cheaper or better but easier.

Nice upper end - That is where I go for something I can't get at home.


Ditto. The really hard part for a professional kitchen is to do several things every night/day with perfect consistency. We can fudge things at home and the level of acceptability is a whole lot lower if you don't get any mulligans and what you see is what you eat. Doing better tomorrow is different if you aren't being paid and/or criticized.

#12 DaRiv18

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 11:22 PM

I can definitely cook better than 90% of "chain family restaurants" - I will just go because it is easier, I don't have to prep, have anything from the store and no clean up. not cheaper or better but easier.

I'm tempted to try a raw diet at home to supplement my eating out. Eating meat is easy when you dine out. I wonder if I could handle just wash-and-go fruits and veggies (and wahoo, doesn't sound like Rocks worked too hard on his delicious dinner!) at home, and do away with all the prep/clean-up/etc. Unrealistic, I know. But conceptually I'm closer to doing that than settling for chains.

"All martinis taste good but do not promote fine distinctions in taste or other areas of intellectual discrimination." Raymond Sokolov, How to Cook


#13 zoramargolis

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 12:51 PM

The real issue is whether you enjoy the process as well as the product. If you do, you will find a way to devote the time to learning the necessary basic techniques, to shop for quality ingredients, and to prepare meals at home, even if you can't do it every day. The popularity of the "thirty-minute meal" or ultra-simplified 5-ingredient recipe is meant to appeal to those who feel obligated to cook, but are primarily interested in producing a home-cooked meal with a minimum of effort. While that kind of cooking is preferable to feeding one's family or subsisting on a steady diet of fast food or frozen prepared food, it shares at it's core (along with, I have to say, subsisting on wash-and-go raw fruits and vegetables when not eating in restaurants) the belief that cooking is an activity that is too hard, too time-consuming, and not pleasurable or worthy of one's effort.

Stepping down from my soapbox now. Carry on...

#14 Pat

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 01:13 PM

Oh I already know I can do the majority of things better myself (it's not that hard on a small scale when you're not under a time crunch). My problem is a complete, total lack of technical prowess (knife skills, cooking experience, etc.). And this is not something that will change because cooking well (and I mean *really* cooking well as opposed to slapping together high-quality ingredients) involves a tremendous amount of skill and a commitment that I simply have not made. It takes years of experience and training and there are no short-cuts. It's the same reason I'll never be a great golfer even though I "could have been." It's just not going to happen.

It's the same reason I can walk through an art gallery and name every artist I see; yet, I can't even draw a straight line.

The "peripherals" (knowledge of ingredients, recipe design, flavor combinations, wine selections, etc.), I've got down pat, and can out-execute 99.9% of restaurants. That's why I'm such an odd bird.

Then there are the dishes.

Rice or salad? Goodness no. What on earth would lead you to believe that I have the time or inclination to make rice or a salad?! :lol:


It doesn't have to be perfect.

(I agree on the dishes. If I have to wash them all myself, I don't cook much.)

#15 DaRiv18

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 02:37 PM

The real issue is whether you enjoy the process as well as the product. . . it shares at it's core (along with, I have to say, subsisting on wash-and-go raw fruits and vegetables when not eating in restaurants) the belief that cooking is an activity that is too hard, too time-consuming, and not pleasurable or worthy of one's effort.


Oh, I enjoy the process, probably a bit too much. I probably enjoy the process to the deteriment of actually paying attention to my family (toddlers/infants who can't help out) and to my relationship with my wife. The New York Times had a great article the other year about couples who cook in the kitchen, and how there is always a Type A person (me) and a Type B person (wife) and how cooking was actually a divisive activity.

"All martinis taste good but do not promote fine distinctions in taste or other areas of intellectual discrimination." Raymond Sokolov, How to Cook


#16 weezy

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 02:57 PM

My sister got a job up here in September and moved in with me. I'm the cook, she's the clean-up person. I love cooking but I never cared for the cleanup work -- now I've got someone to do it, but it hasn't changed my habit of using only 1-2 pots, a cutting board and a good knife to take care of all the cooking. She's happy about it, too.

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#17 JPW

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 03:26 PM

I've done every job in a restaurant but own one. I enjoy going out for the thing that I was by far the worst at and still am the worst at in my house-- serving tables. But that's besides the point...

When going out, I almost always look for the dish that I can't (for equipment or ingredient reasons) or won't bother (time and effort) to make at home because too often I have that "not as good as what I make' reaction. At other times, I'm looking for inspiration.

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#18 monavano

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 05:28 PM

I've done every job in a restaurant but own one. I enjoy going out for the thing that I was by far the worst at and still am the worst at in my house-- serving tables. But that's besides the point...

When going out, I almost always look for the dish that I can't (for equippment or ingredient reasons) or won't bother (time and effort) to make at home because too often I have that "not as good as what I make' reaction. At other times, I'm looking for inspiration.


Ditto. Many times I know I can make something at home with exceptional ingredients for a fraction of the cost and I pass that by on the menu (not all times, some familiar dishes hit the spot even more when someone else is doing the work). Other times I know that I'm so excited to try a dish that might be out of my wheelhouse or else I'm looking for inspiration.
I think of a Venn diagram where some of my skills will overlap with those of a pro chef, but I think I can say that because I have a curiosity about cooking and baking techniques and I want to know the why and how as well as end up with the end product.
Case in point, I plan to make a Buche de Noel* this year and this will be my first Genoise cake. I found it very interesting that it is more of a souffle than a cake and that sugar will make it dry and crack if there's too much.
* am speaking of The Cake Bible, of course :)

#19 lperry

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 07:12 PM

When going out, I almost always look for the dish that I can't (for equippment or ingredient reasons) or won't bother (time and effort) to make at home because too often I have that "not as good as what I make' reaction. At other times, I'm looking for inspiration.


Ditto X 2. I want something that I don't know how to make or would not take the time to make at home. I want to take advantage of the restaurant having equipment and staff that I lack.

#20 monavano

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 07:32 PM

I make brisket. I make hanger steak. (I need a naughty rhyme here) I ordered a dish with both at Tallulah a few years ago and was blown away from the flavor profile of the brisket. It tasted of Pho broth and I asked our waitress to ask the chef if there was cardamom in the dish/braise and she responded that yes, there was, good for you!
My nest brisket I tried to replicate Tallulah's and I came pretty close. Fun. Inspiration.




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