Ask any Sitges chef or Barcelona caterer how they mastered their art and they’ll tell you three things: passion, perseverance, and practice. Whilst the passion for food needs to burn within you, and perseverance only comes from sticking at it, there are plenty of little bits and pieces you can practice at home in just a few minutes a day.
To give your time in the kitchen the spark of inspiration it needs we’ve put together a few hints and tips from the masters that will have you cooking like a Sitges private chef in no time at all.
Taste, Taste, and Taste Again
This doesn’t just mean that your food needs to taste great — that’s a given. What you need to do to really elevate your cooking to the heights of the Spanish masters is taste as you go. This means you sample your sauces at every stage to check the seasoning is giving you the right balance of flavours. Not only will this give you a chance to savour your cooking as you go, it will allow you to make the fine adjustments that will bring any plate of food to life in your mouth.
Master Your Tools
An artisan trusts their tools and ensures they’re in the best possible condition, and a Sitges home chef will be no different. A dull or blunt knife means you’re forcing your cuts and not getting the full benefit of the quality of your raw ingredients. Regularly sharpening your knives will allow you to glide in the kitchen and create something the whole family will enjoy.
Don’t Crowd Your Pan
Looking in any professional kitchen and you’ll see piles of small pans on the hobs. This isn’t just for show, it’s to get the right cooking environment for each and every ingredient. What works for one meat may not work for another, so adjust the heat and the oil accordingly and cook them separately. The same is true of vegetables which can often begin to steam if they’re piled too high in your pan. Keep the portion sizes small and concentrate on quality, not quantity.
Your Nose Beats Any Timer
No two cuts of meat will ever cook exactly the same, and subtle variations in your ingredients will alter how your sauce comes together. Ask any Barcelona chef how they time their dishes and they’ll tell you that a carefully honed sense of smell is better than any timer you could set. Get to know your ingredients so that you can develop an intuitive sense of when they’re blending together nicely. Your sense of smell will be able to guide you far better than any recipe book once you’ve practiced your favourite recipes often enough.
Hopefully these quick hints and tips from the masters will give you plenty to work on in the kitchen. Just remember, food is about having fun and enjoying sitting down for a meal with your loved ones first and foremost. Have fun with it, don’t be too hard on yourself, and with a little practice you’re sure to taste big differences coming out of the family kitchen.