I have the most type-A personality that I can imagine. I've always considered myself a good and fairly intuitive home-cook (here I am with a food blog) - but I was always curious about what REALLY made someone a chef versus a cook.
Many people will tell you that going to culinary school is the only way to truly become a chef - but I think this is culturally and economically dismissive. Many people want to be the best cook possible, and if you're like me, you want to do so by building out the basics step by step.
After tons of research on chef forums, authority sites and even the Culinary Institute of America, I've put together a list of the steps and resources that a home cook can work their way through in order to be the best home cook they can. This "course" covers safety, basic skills and the recipe foundations needed to really master any kitchen task imaginable + the science behind why all of this is important.
As an adult who was diagnosed with ADHD late (at 22 years old in 2019!) I struggle with ambiguity and I thrive with detailed and orderly steps. I created this guide for myself and hope others will benefit from it, too.
This list is going to be evolving and will be updated as I also cook my way through this course. Make sure to sign up for my newsletter here so you don't miss a thing!
This suggested "master cooking everything" curriculum is based off the textbook that is found in most professional culinary schools, On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals by Sarah R. Labensky as well as supplementary material from:
- America's Test Kitchen
- The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
- Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
- The Flavor Bible by Karen Page & Andrew Dorneburg
- The Food Lab by Kenji Lopez-Alt
- Pro Home Cooks and Joshua Weissman's Youtube Channels
This is not all the resources I recommend, but it's an incredible start. Each key concept and recipe will have information from these books, the internet and tons of bonus readings to really deep-dive into topics.
This is based VERY heavily off the chapter contents of On Cooking by Sarah R. Labensky. When I was looking to really deep dive into understanding the how/why of incredible food, I wanted to start with learning skills. My brain works in a way that is best supported by building blocks (and I feel like a lot of people are the same) and working through a Culinary Arts textbook is the best way for me to create a checklist.
I'm all about practicing what I preach. I started this blog in July of 2020, and in August of 2021, I decided to do full research and testing (in order) of this curriculum. This page will be linked out as I start testing with articles, recipes and resources I've gathered along the way. For now, save/bookmark/pin this article for reference as it gets built out.
Here are the basic guides that are broken down in the curriculum - Curriculum pieces that are italicized are not in the standard "On Cooking" textbook curriculum, but I believe are important:
- Food Safety and Sanitation
- How to Make a Menu / How to Create a Recipe
- Tools and Equipment
- Knife Skills
- Understanding Flavor
- Advanced Flavor Profiling
- The Science of Good Food
- Mise en Place
- Cooking Technique Basics
- Eggs, Dairy and Breakfast Foods
- Stocks, Sauces and Soups
- Fish & Shellfish
- Vegetables & Fruits
- Salads & Salad Dressings
- Carbs (Potatoes, Grains & Pasta)
- Healthy Cooking
- Macro and Micro Nutrients
- Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking
- Charcuterie & Entertaining
- Quick Breads
- Yeast Breads
- Pies, Pastries and Cookies
- Cakes and Frostings
- Custards, Creams, Frozen Desserts
- Measurements and Conversions
- Zero Waste Cooking
- Budget Cooking
- Food and Drink Pairing