1. Make perfectly shaped burger patties by throwing them against your cutting board to prevent air bubbles, then pressing a dimple into the middle to keep them from puffing up too much.
2. Save the stems of herbs like parsley and cilantro and add them to soups, stews, or stocks while cooking.
One thing that restaurant cooks are really good at is putting every scrap to use. After you’ve picked the leaves off of your fresh herbs, keep the stems in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and use them to flavor anything that you’ll simmer for a long time on the stove. When you’re ready to use the stems, tie them together with either a long stem or some butcher’s twine, then add them to whatever you’re simmering. Before serving, just remember to remove the tied-up stems and throw them away.
3. Similarly, woody herbs like thyme or rosemary should also be bundled and tied with butcher’s twine before they’re added to the pot.
4. Have a bench scraper on hand at all times to get food and scraps off of your cutting board.
A couple years ago, I got to watch chef Jamie Bissonnette make an insane breakfast hash that involved a lot of different vegetables, and a lot of chopping. Chef had his bench scraper handy at all times, and he used it to transfer things from his cutting board into pots and bowls, and to wipe his board clean of any leftover food scraps. Using the bench scraper is cleaner and more efficient than using your hands. It also beats scraping things up with your knife, which will dull the blade and could also be a little dangerous.
5. Sprinkle salt from up high, and season your food at every stage of cooking.
6. Use a “roll cut” to give things a varied texture, or to make a dish more visually interesting.
When you “roll cut” something (here’s how), the pieces you end up with will be thick in the center and thin on the edges, so they’ll cook at slightly different rates and give your finished dish a more interesting texture.
7. Always rinse jasmine rice before you cook it, and use a 1:1 ratio of rice to water.
8. It’s possible to get perfect, fluffy rice without a rice cooker. You just need to time it right.
“You never lift the lid up when you make rice,” Talde says. “Even in a rice cooker. After it’s done, you let it go for like 10 minutes without lifting the lid.” Letting the rice rest, covered and off the heat, gives all the moisture a chance to settle, so that the rice on the bottom is just as fluffy as the rice on the top.
9. When you’re making fried rice, “prep” your pan by frying an egg in it first.
According to Talde, “if you put eggs in a pan first, nothing will stick to the pan [afterwards as you cook].” We skeptically asked him why this was true. “I dunno, man. I’ve been working in Chinese restaurants for how long, and every time you make fried rice it’s like, ‘Start with egg, or else it’s gonna stick.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, bullshit.’ So then I didn’t do it one time and I’m like, ‘WHAT THE FUCK?!’ All the rice stuck to the fuckin’ wok.”
10. Truss poultry before you roast it for more even cooking and more tender breast meat.
As long as you have butcher’s twine on hand, trussing is easy. It keeps the breast meat (which is often overcooked) tender by preventing dry air from circulating inside the cavity, which means it won’t dry out as quickly. Here’s exactly how to truss a chicken.
11. Clarified butter adds the same delicious flavor as regular butter, but it’s better for most cooking since it doesn’t burn.
12. Always make biscuit dough by hand; don’t use a food processor or electric mixer.
The key to perfectly flaky biscuits, according to chef Elizabeth Falkner, is properly working the butter into the flour and other dry ingredients, and that’s much easier when you do it by hand. “When you’re working butter into flour for a biscuit recipe it’ll say, ‘Work the butter until it looks like coarse cornmeal,’” Falkner says. See the video above for her tips on what exactly that means.
13. Crack eggs on an even surface (like your counter or cutting board), instead of on the edge of a bowl.
When it comes to eggs, few chefs are as knowledgable as the legendary Jacques Pepin. He stresses that you should always crack your eggs on a flat surface. “When you crack on the bowl, the shell gets pushed inside the egg, not good,” Pepin says.
14. And before you try to whisk the eggs, pierce the yolks with a fork.
Breaking the yolk first makes it much easier to blend everything together, Pepin says.