Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Cooking Speeds: Are You Slow or Fast?


Chris Amirault
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • 3 years later...

I was just thinking about this today: I think I am the world's slowest cook. "Methodical" if I'm being complementary. I just kinda plod my way through the prep list, stare out the window a bit, re-read the recipe, pour another glass of wine, chop something up, stare out the window some more, etc. And frankly, that's the way I like it.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris, sounds like you enjoy the ride. I find cooking relaxing after work and aften times find myself spending more time than I use to to prepare the meal. Not just taking more time to do the same job but going the extra mile in prep work to make it really look nice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few thoughts here:

Time is the big advantage a home cook has over a professional cook. I don't have the skills of a line cook at a good restaurant, but I only have to make dinner for a few people and I have plenty of time to do it. So when it comes to things that, with time, I can do better than restaurants, I do them.

Repetition makes a huge difference. The first few times I cook a dish I'm on the learning curve. I take plenty of time, over the course of several iterations over a period of weeks, months or years, to get the dish up to the point where I can't make it any better. But then some dishes become part of my repertoire, and then making them more efficiently (defined as quickly without loss of quality) becomes the goal.

I don't like to make people wait. It upsets me. Last week I was half an hour late to meet some people and I was almost having a panic attack. That kind of lateness happens to me once every couple of years. So when I tell people dinner will be on the table at 7:30, I usually have it on the table at 7:30 plus or minus a minute. So there's definitely a subtraction exercise that goes on when I prepare dinner. If I have less time, I accelerate. I probably enjoy it less in the moment, but I love the feeling of getting it all done in time.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The family would state unequivocally that I cook (too) slowly. Truth is that I can produce a meal quickly when necessary, especially on those relatively rare occasions when I repeat a dish. Breakneck speed can be exhilarating, but lingering slowly over each step provides a much deeper satisfaction. This is also true for other pleasurable activities. :wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even before I moved to New York in 1991 I tended to walk pretty quickly. It's just my natural pace.

Unless there's a particular reason to do something slowly, or I'm learning something new, or maybe I'm ahead of schedule or my wife is late getting home for dinner and I need to slow things down, I tend to be pretty quick and efficient in the kitchen, and if things don't require my immediate attention, I'm usually cleaning up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's speed that comes from moving fast, and there's speed that comes from efficiency. If you have good organization and efficient technique, you can fly through prep even if you're moving at a relaxed pace. Cutting board organization is worth a lot more than adrenaline. Knife skills are worth a hundred times more.

I sometimes move fast and keep a lot of balls in the air in the kitchen. Other times I putter ... depends on the mood and the meal and the deadline. But I never like to work inefficiently. It takes the fun out of it. Taking much more than 30 seconds to dice an onion doesn't feel relaxing to me; it's painful!

On the other hand, baking sometimes slows me to a crawl. If my brain isn't fully plugged in (a likely state ... ) I know to slow down and minimize any multitasking, just so I don't make any stupid mistakes. I'm most likely to mess up my own recipes If I go too fast; I foolishly assume I have these recipes wired, and I stop paying attention.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm a volleyball player. On the court, most of my time is devoted to getting ready for a hit, it seems slow to onlookers but your thoughts are going extremely fast , always evaluating what is going on and anticipating the action to come. When the ball is heading your way however, you have to move very quickly. It is not time to think anymore; you just act the way you should.

I like to think that cooking is quite similar to that. There are times when you need to slow down, prepare and think ahead, it can be almost meditative. You get everything ready (make stock, chop onions, etc.) and plan the sequence of events before plating and serving. At the end, things accelerate and you simply execute, often very quickly, what you prepared for.

As with volleyball, there are moments when preparation time is limited (e.g. weeknight or an unusual/unexpected hit from the other team) and everything has to be executed very quickly. There are other time when even the execution can be done slowly; these are the time when you either have the perfect control of the ball or the cooking process.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm schizophrenic; lots of things, I want the actual cooking very slow, and others, very fast; whatever does the job best.

The prep however, I want to be as quick and efficient as I can make it, however far I am from that goal. I have minimal knife skills, and am not the best at sorting out the most efficient prep and cooking sequence. What steps should go forth immediately and what can have prep done just in time for when it is needed often escapes me. Too often I prep everything first so that I don't get stuck in the middle, but prepping everything ahead is frequently an inefficiency of time.

Two values motivate me most; the pleasure of cooking well and the pleasure of cooking with increasing creativity. Both benefit from the fluency that comes with experience and repetition. I like to just get the grunt work over with. I get the biggest bang out of gradually taking an ordinary recipe, iterating and evolving it into something more unique and better over the course of cooking it and modifying it repeatedly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...