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Marks of a bad cook

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I have seen beautiful, amazingly appointed, very modern kitchens and the cooks speciality is making reservations. I have seen cooks whose only knife is a dime store paring knife which just came out of the dishwasher who turn out some very good meals. They usually take a little longer to do it though.


Edited by Norm Matthews (log)

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[sarcasm] Yes, I'm a bad cook because I don't:

1. Keep my knives in a block or on a strip

2. Respect my pans

3. Have a knife sharpener.

[/sarcasm]

Really?

If you use metal utensils on Teflon pans, then yes you are a bad cook. Regardless of how tasty the meals you're serving are they are tainted with tiny bits of scraped up non-stick surface. That's definitely not being a good cook.

Would you call someone who made delicious meals that gave you salmonella half the time because of bad kitchen habits a good cook? I wouldn't.

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I think the cleanliness of a kitchen is correlated to the quality of the food produced within it. I don't mean keeping your kitchen immaculate as you're making a meal... I mean cleaning up once you're finished. Years of hardened grease on a stovetop, dust bunnies in front of the fridge, a week's dishes piled in the sink - those are all signs to me that the kitchen's owner is a bad cook.

Why? Because if you don't respect the environment in which you're cooking, you probably don't respect the ingredients you're using either.

Would you trust your child in the custody of someone who kept their house in disarray? I didn't think so. That's why I wouldn't trust an onion or a ribeye in the custody of someone who doesn't clean their counters.


SCOTT HEIMENDINGER
Co-Founder, CMO

Sansaire

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There's an element of smugness, as if "we're good, and you're not".

Smug is bad, but aloof sarcasm is OK.

How do we all look from up there?

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Sign of a "bad" cook? A person who doesn't give a crap about what they're eating, only eats food for nutrition value, never for enjoyment. Someone who just doesn't care about food isn't going to be motivated to improve their basic cooking skills, or be able tell if the stuff they churn out tastes good or bad.

All the other stuff - dull knives, old spices, pre-made condiments, bare fridge - are perhaps marks of a lazy cook or someone who doesn't cook much. My cousin has a naked fridge with nothing but few bottles of wine, and she is quite a good cook. I have Classico pasta sauce, bottled lemon juice and a non-stick pan that has seen better days - but I think I am far from being a sucky cook.

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[sarcasm] Yes, I'm a bad cook because I don't:

1. Keep my knives in a block or on a strip

2. Respect my pans

3. Have a knife sharpener.

[/sarcasm]

Really?

If you use metal utensils on Teflon pans, then yes you are a bad cook. Regardless of how tasty the meals you're serving are they are tainted with tiny bits of scraped up non-stick surface. That's definitely not being a good cook.

Would you call someone who made delicious meals that gave you salmonella half the time because of bad kitchen habits a good cook? I wouldn't.

I use a wooden spoon, actually.

But please keep on making generalizations.

This thread is really full of lulz.

edit: I take back #2. I didn't read your comment closely. But a lot of the rest of the thread is hilarious, mostly because of the lack of cause and effect.


Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)

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There's an element of smugness, as if "we're good, and you're not".

Smug is bad, but aloof sarcasm is OK.

How do we all look from up there?

I'd say, a few degrees short of well-done.

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Bottled salad dressing. Check. (sometimes I make my own, other times I don’t)

Melamine plates. Almost every meal I ate as a child summering in NC was eaten off these. At the homes of phenomenal cooks.

Only little teeny serrated plastic handled knives. Nothing over 5". My grandmother cut every single thing holding it in her hand using a paring knife. Again, a phenomenal cook.

Instant coffee. Check. I don’t drink coffee and Mr. Kim doesn’t always want to make a pot in the morning.

Reconstituted lemon juice. Check. (again, sometimes I use fresh, other times I don’t)

Wow. I must be some lousy cook. :hmmm:

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If I would go into a friend's kitchen and see a sous vide set-up,I'd assume that they are serious about cooking and probably decent at it.

Funny. I would probably make some less charitable assumptions if I saw a sous vide setup in someone's home kitchen.

Chowhound recently summarized a long thread about roughly the same topic. The summary is here:

http://www.chow.com/food-news/84109/top-ten-signs-of-a-bad-cook/


Edited by Will (log)

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I get what people are saying about most of this stuff, and the reasoning behind it too, but, instant coffee? LOL come on man, my mom drinks instant coffee because she likes the taste of it, and she's still an amazing cook after raising 6 kids and my dad. I did give her a pound of Blue Mountain coffee I brought back from Jamaica, and she raved about it, but then went back to her same old instant that she likes every morning.

Ah well, some things never change.


There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who are good at math and those who aren't.

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Sign of a "bad" cook? A person who doesn't give a crap about what they're eating, only eats food for nutrition value, never for enjoyment. Someone who just doesn't care about food isn't going to be motivated to improve their basic cooking skills, or be able tell if the stuff they churn out tastes good or bad.

All the other stuff - dull knives, old spices, pre-made condiments, bare fridge - are perhaps marks of a lazy cook or someone who doesn't cook much. My cousin has a naked fridge with nothing but few bottles of wine, and she is quite a good cook. I have Classico pasta sauce, bottled lemon juice and a non-stick pan that has seen better days - but I think I am far from being a sucky cook.

That's probably one of the few responses so far that I can agree with.

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Sign of a "bad" cook? A person who doesn't give a crap about what they're eating, only eats food for nutrition value, never for enjoyment. Someone who just doesn't care about food isn't going to be motivated to improve their basic cooking skills, or be able tell if the stuff they churn out tastes good or bad.

All the other stuff - dull knives, old spices, pre-made condiments, bare fridge - are perhaps marks of a lazy cook or someone who doesn't cook much. My cousin has a naked fridge with nothing but few bottles of wine, and she is quite a good cook. I have Classico pasta sauce, bottled lemon juice and a non-stick pan that has seen better days - but I think I am far from being a sucky cook.

That's probably one of the few responses so far that I can agree with.

Ditto.

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No salt in the kitchen (medical reasons excluded)...


Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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Industrial size bottles of ketchup and steak sauce. Generally a sign that the taste Needs to be covered up!


Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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I haven't had much bad food in my lifetime, or eaten at the homes of "bad cooks". For that I am thankful.

Certain eGullet-isms aside such as in the case of the famous "orange salad" (grated Velveeta and mandarin orange segments in orange-flavored Jello) .... a sign of a "bad cook" if ever there was one, one of the few memories I do have in my childhood was the time we spent at a relative's place. Most of the food had a certain "off"-taste. I ate just the minimum to be polite, then went out for a pizza afterwards.

We found out much later that she liked to store leftovers ... from a year ago :blink: so that the freezer would always be well-stocked, and use those for last-minute get-togethers, which this particular gathering just happened to be.

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Funny. I would probably make some less charitable assumptions if I saw a sous vide setup in someone's home kitchen.

Please expand on this. I'm just curious as to what negative connotations you can derive from seeing someone set up for sous vide.

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Funny. I would probably make some less charitable assumptions if I saw a sous vide setup in someone's home kitchen.

Please expand on this. I'm just curious as to what negative connotations you can derive from seeing someone set up for sous vide.

To me, it would indicate someone who is a bit hyper-focused on the "technology" side of cooking, and a bit too excited in bells / whistles rather than simple, well executed cooking and basic technique. Just because you can have some techno-weenie gadget doesn't mean you know how to chop an onion. Also, I'd be a little afraid that the same person might be tempted to try out their "molecular gastronomy" out on me.

That's not to say that sous vide may not have useful applications in cooking, but having a setup for it at home seems a little over the top. Of course there may be plenty of people who are good cooks and have home sous vide setups, but that's not the conclusion I would reach simply by noticing that someone had this sort of rig in their home kitchen.

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I always thought aloof sarcasm was the result of smugness.

That may be, but the vast majority of replies so far are not demonstrable as to say that X leads to Y. What I get from this thread is that many of the responses are people jumping on the bandwagon because it's the thing to do. And as much as I like to preach the whole organic/locavore/fresh thing, just because someone doesn't subscribe to that notion how to cook doesn't make that person a bad cook.

Even the Chowhound thread has lots to disagree with, especially #10. Many in my family had/have a huge cultural aversion to bloody meat. My mom, for example, when we first came to the States, regularly cooked steak past the point of no return.

It took many years before she would become comfortable with steak medium-rare. Even then, she prefers it a couple minutes past what most of us who order medium-rare at a restaurant would receive.

Is she a bad cook? Personally, I think she's an amazing cook, but I can't prove that on a bulletin board so you'll just have to take my word for it.

I could go on, but you get my drift.


Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)

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Sign of a "bad" cook? A person who doesn't give a crap about what they're eating, only eats food for nutrition value, never for enjoyment. Someone who just doesn't care about food isn't going to be motivated to improve their basic cooking skills, or be able tell if the stuff they churn out tastes good or bad.

All the other stuff - dull knives, old spices, pre-made condiments, bare fridge - are perhaps marks of a lazy cook or someone who doesn't cook much. My cousin has a naked fridge with nothing but few bottles of wine, and she is quite a good cook. I have Classico pasta sauce, bottled lemon juice and a non-stick pan that has seen better days - but I think I am far from being a sucky cook.

Yes. Not understanding basic seasoning is the sign of a bad cook, even if that cook is trying pretty hard. Also, someone who must follow recipe directions so strictly that they cannot think about altering them (to deviate from that path would leave them floundering in directionless limbo). These are signs of an inexperienced cook too, and these things will gradually be learned. If they are not, the cook is a bad cook no matter the experience they have or the toys they own. Understanding the fundamental elements of cooking make a good cook. Lacking the fundamentals reveals a bad cook, no matter what the equipment or anything else.

A lot of people I know that watch me cook tend to say that I use way too much salt. That is because they watch me take a big pinch of kosher salt and sprinkle from on high to get a good even coating of salt on a protein for instance. It is no surprise then that their food is bland, no matter how they try and dress it up. That is the sign of a bad cook.


nunc est bibendum...

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Where is the dividing line between poor/unskilled/uninterested and bad?

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I think it all comes down to attitude towards cooking.

Poor/inexperienced/unskilled folks that have a willingness to learn the fundamentals of cookery and seasoning, have a desire to improve, and a genuine interest in food can become "not bad".

Poor/inexperienced/unskilled folks who oppose learning the basics & developing an interest in what they consume just have a bad attitude toward food & cooking. In my books, bad attitude = bad cook. And to them I say, "Sorry, can't help you there, you're a lost cause!"

(Doesn't mean they're a bad person, of course, just a bad cook!)

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Where is the dividing line between poor/unskilled/uninterested and bad?

That's the question maybe but I think you have to take things like this on a case by case basis. Like many people have said, there really is no smoking gun so that when you walk into anybody's kitchen you will know they can cook or not. I don't think you'd mistake my kitchen for that of somebody who doesn't cook a lot. But I know some people who have much better equipment than me because they can afford it and they like to buy stuff. Their kitchen might look to most to be the outfit of a solid cook, but there is very little cooking going on in that kitchen. All the appliances are completely unused (which I found out when I went to use their food processor the other day: it was out on the counter and everything, and looked great, but there was still plastic from the manufacturer that was never taken off of it because it never saw any use).

Somebody above mentioned that it would be a shame if somebody who really tried to cook well still sucked after trying for a while. That assumes the kind of trying that made many of the people on these forums good cooks: intense planning, learning the fundamentals, application of a lot of care, etc. For some, their attempts at cooking are superficial, like my attempts at bowling. When I'm at the lanes, I try. But I never get better because there's no sustained interest. Just a few spectacular attempts here and there without any sustained attempt to learn how to get better, or equipment purchased but never put through its paces because cooking remains a rarefied thing, not something you do most days (or every day). That's how you remain unskilled and poor even after a while: haphazard, ultimately superficial interest in cooking. Everyone else will go from poor/bad to good quickly enough I believe.

Edit: Looks like Beebs scooped me with a good succinct version of what I was meanwhile long-windedly typing out.


Edited by Alcuin (log)

nunc est bibendum...

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All the appliances are completely unused (which I found out when I went to use their food processor the other day: it was out on the counter and everything, and looked great, but there was still plastic from the manufacturer that was never taken off of it because it never saw any use).

I'm guilty of this with my food processor :laugh: I live alone but cook 4-5 times a week and have a fantastic food processor thats been sitting on my counter for about 6 months and has never been used. I always find a way to use my immersion blender instead :laugh: :laugh:

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All the appliances are completely unused (which I found out when I went to use their food processor the other day: it was out on the counter and everything, and looked great, but there was still plastic from the manufacturer that was never taken off of it because it never saw any use).

I'm guilty of this with my food processor :laugh: I live alone but cook 4-5 times a week and have a fantastic food processor thats been sitting on my counter for about 6 months and has never been used. I always find a way to use my immersion blender instead :laugh: :laugh:

I know-I'll always avoid using the processor if I can. It's kind of a pain to clean sometimes and takes up a lot of space in the dishwasher. I'll usually gladly pound out that pesto or sambal in a mortar and pestle than deal with the food processor. I use it less and less, but that's because I have other things to do some of the jobs it did now too (stand mixer, immersion blender, blender, mortar and pestle).


nunc est bibendum...

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