Avoid a Last-Minute Party Foulby Michael Wards
You’ve put so much time and effort into preparing for the holidays; you don’t want to get cited for a party (food) foul at the last minute. An untimed meal, a cluttered fridge, and a messy kitchen, can cause chaos on your cook day. But have you ever watched a professional chef work and wondered, “How do they make it look so easy?”
Mise en place is a fancy French phrase that means, “to set up.” Or put simply, it’s a technique that helps you get organized. And it’s how chefs maintain a sense of order and calm in a crazy kitchen. Try out my top tips this holiday season, and your guests will wonder how you make it look so easy!
Let’s Mise En Place:
- Create a schedule: Get all of your recipes in one place and organize them according to time and complexity. Also think about what you can get done a day or two in advance, like baking pies and washing/chopping vegetables. Make a list, so you can check off tasks as you complete them.
- Keep it clean: Always start—and end—with a clean kitchen. Make space in the fridge and freezer, have clean Tupperware ready for leftovers, and empty the dishwasher. Make sure your knives, pots/pans, and gadgets are washed and ready to use. And have a few side towels handy for moping up spills.
- Maximize efficiency: Set up your cutting board next to your stove, so you can chop and cook at the same time. Place a designated “garbage bowl” near your cutting board to minimize trips to the trash. Keep non-perishable ingredients in arms-distance and organize perishable ingredients in the fridge, putting the first-to-be used items towards the front.
- Chop Wisely: There’s no need to chop one onion, cook a dish, and then chop the next onion for another dish. Instead, chop all ingredients together. If you’re chopping onions for stuffing, chop the onions for the salad, and so on. Keep all of your prepped ingredients in little bowls so they’re ready when you are.