Once a year I find myself back in Darwin at the family home, a majority of that time is spent cussing at the domestic kitchen I have to manoeuvre to cook brunch and dinner for family and friends. This feat is made impossible by a number of factors; mostly because the kitchen is a mess. In restaurant kitchens space isn’t as vast as Neil deGrasse Tyson has you believe. Kitchen bench real-estate is so precious Donald Trump would put a bond down for it.
“A clear bench is a clear mind” - Any self respecting chef
How To Maximise Your Kitchen Space
- Comb over every inch of your kitchen and remove clutter. Throw crap out
- Chipped plates, that fork you hate because the prongs are too long or the spoon with the awkward handle.
- Dried herbs/seasonings. After 3 months these viles of flavour loose potency. Your best bet is to use more, make large stews/curries/pastas that you can freeze down. Or alternatively combine spices with salt to preserve your favourite combinations (TIP: Put your new found alchemy skills to work and package up your personal seasonings to give to friends).
- Paprikas, Garlic Powder, Dried herbs for pastas and red sauces and BBQ’s.
- Whole Seeds are best left solo.
- Bay Leaves, Pepper corn, whole Cinnamon/Star-anise great for broths and chicken stocks.
- Other spices like Cumin and Turmeric are also best left solo; like Justin Timberlake.
- Pots and pans with rust or wonky handles. (Out with the old, in with the new)
- Condiments. No one likes waste, either google for a dish with pickled onion or get rid of them, In the industry we call that the ‘cost of doing business’.
- Decorative knick knacks to be used sparingly, after all we still want a sense of feng shui, the kitchen is a place of magic and creation, just ask George Castanza.
- Have your compost and recycling bins at arms length when cooking so your not leaving your station. The moment you disconnect from that chopping board or food procesor it’s easy to get distracted.
- Install hanging hooks for coffee cups and frequently used utensils. Set aside a drawer for any of those Instagram/blog props. No good bleaching those wooden spoons with turmeric.
The Chopping Board
A decent sized chopping board to do the hard work is a great investment. This helps create a plateau and doesn’t restrict you like those tiny white rubbish ones you see on TV. Green board for fruits and vegetables. White for bread and miscellaneous, red for red meat, yellow for poultry, blue for fish. You don’t need a full collection. Green and red will suffice. Make sure you give them a good scrub after each use. As a dishwasher won’t get rid of any smells or hard stains.
When using a chopping board, ALWAYS anchor it down with either a wet cloth underneath or adhesive mats, you can purchase adhesive mats from most commercial hospitality stores. i.e ‘Chefs Hat’.
“When you’re cooking, you’re cooking.” - Paul McLoughlin
These are just a few handy tips to keep in mind next time your bunch of spring onion gets caught under the toaster mid chiffonade. It’s a lot more frustrating then it sounds.
If you want to cook like your favourite chef, keep your bench clean and your mind dirty.
image credit: Pinerest