Geoffrey Zakarian's Guide to Achieving Pro-Cook Status
This Iron Chef and restaurateur knows just what it takes to elevate home cooking to the next level.
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Stock Your Kitchen — But Don't Go Overboard
"A professional chef needs to always have the best of the best, not the most of the average. If you have 500 things, you don’t need them. You need one hundred things," Geoffrey says.
Invest in Quality Ingredients
Take it from Geoffrey: "You need to have the proper salt, pepper, vinegars, olive oils and the base ingredients to do your cooking proud."
Don't Be Afraid to Season Heavily
"You can always tell a con or a home cook because they underuse salt and pepper," explains Geoffrey. "They don’t have it next to them cooking, and they are very shy with salt and pepper."
Cook Within Your Comfort Zone
Geoffrey says that his advice for Cooks vs. Cons competitors is simple, "Do what you can do. Season it well. Don’t try to impress us. We are very impressed by your well-cooked egg. We are not impressed by your messed-up chicken." Those lessons work well for home cooks too — straightforward dishes are often the best bet.
Get the Recipe: The Proper Scrambled Eggs
Make Sure You've Mastered the Basics
"Start with breakfast, go to lunch, go to dinner," notes Geoffrey of how to grow as a cook. "Eggs, salads, roasts."
Get the Recipe: New England Pot Roast
Hone Your Skills
"If you’re going to cook in the kitchen two to three times a day, which is a lot, you need to know how to boil, fry, saute, roast, braise and make a great vinaigrette," explains Geoffrey. "If you can do that, you can feed the family very easily and with a very reasonable budget."
Remember the Souffle Mantra: Room-Temp Eggs Are Key
"Souffles expand as they bake, and, if you have a cold egg, the egg whites won’t expand," Geoffrey says. Also, he notes the importance of using salt, vinegar or cream of tartar to help that process along.
Get the Recipe: Chocolate Souffle
There Are 3 Secrets to Succulent Steak
Not only should the beef be at room temperature before you start cooking, but the grill should be very hot, he explains. And afterwards, let the steak rest for 10 minutes before you cut it. That will ensure the juices redistribute, which will result in a moist, tender steak.
Get the Recipe: Grilled Cowboy Rib Eye with Watercress Salad
Want More Cooks vs. Cons?
Check out Food Network's Cooks vs. Cons headquarters for more expert tips from Geoffrey and to test your culinary chops in brand-new quizzes.