There are glorious moments in the kitchen when things go exquisitely well and we picture our face,
in all its sweaty glory, on the cover of Bon Appétit and then, there is that slow motion, non returnable instant, when all goes terribly wrong. Every chef, every cook knows disaster can strike
in a split second.
We get distracted, we make mistakes, we make a mess, we don’t follow directions, or simply there is mechanical failure. Even Julia Child was no stranger to dropping the occasional raw chicken or letting her flambé’ turn in to serious flames.
I’m no stranger to those “OOPS Moment” myself. I have for sure had my share of flat cakes, bland soups, raw chickens, dry breads, explosive blenders, and bloody fingers. I could go on for days. Luckily, no one has to know. That’s when I’m in the privacy of my own little kitchen.
And that’s when I always leave my self some extra time to either cook something new or run out for rotisserie kitchen.
However there are those times when I have to cook live and I only have 30 minutes to do it right. I’m talking about this past weekend at the Audubon Greenwich, where I had the pleasure and the honor to be invited to do 3 cooking demonstrations during the Sustainable Farm Expo.
I was excited to work with fresh farm eggs, marinate and grill a yummy bavette steak, show how to home cure a salmon and use some great organic, local produce form the Westport Farmers Market.
While the eggs and home cured salmon where smooth sailing, my mise for steak was not in place and when I went to cook the beautiful grass fed steak, the burners were not working and the grill pan was cold.
There is a nothing fun about 50 piercing eyes, including the ones of the butcher, staring at you and the hungry silence that descends during a cooking demo going south. But there is always a way to come back north. Luckily I had an electric pan in the back. The steak was saved and so was lunch.
Following are a few tips for when Murphy’s Law “If anything can go wrong, it will” rears it’s ugly head and my recipe for home cured citrus salmon.
- Never try something new and don’t improvise or substitute ingredients when cooking for guests.
- Prep everything ahead. I mean everything.
- Make lists of what you will need. Don’t forget your list.
- Even ovens with the best intentions may be off, but an oven thermometer will solve the mystery of the real temperature.
- Hot liquids will explode in a blender. Cool everything off before pushing the start button.
- Keep your knives sharp.
- Try everything before serving and before cooking.
- Salt is your friend.
- Don’t panic. Think.
- Make ahead some pizzas, a meat stew, meatballs, soups, a pasta-bake and freeze all for emergencies.
- Never apologize. If you are cooking for someone you are doing him or her a favor. Whatever the out come is they should kiss the ground you walk on or at least do your dishes.