Five Things TV Chefs Do That Are Wrong

cookingdisaster.jpg
Flickr user technodad
As hard as it may be to swallow, the people who cook on TV are occasionally wrong. It's not just pronunciations (it's "broo-SKET-tah", damn it), it's techniques. Some of them are TV tricks using previously prepared food, and some of them are just plain errors.

1. How to hold a knife

therightway.jpg
Flickr user mattjb
Quick, what's the fastest way to tell professional chefs from rank amateurs? Watch how they hold a chef's knife. The second that index finger sticks out along the spine of the knife, it's a clear signal the person has never had to chop massive amounts of anything. It gives the illusion of control, but in fact the knife is less steady. Professional chefs hold both sides of the blade with the handle tucked under their wrist, from which vantage point it is impossible to slice one's finger off (see picture above). Sadly, this is more common than one would think on the television.

2. Oil in the pasta water

oilandwater.jpg
Flickr user grapefruitmoon
Mario Batali must have a heart attack every time some non-Italian puts a blob of oil in a pot of boiling water for pasta. It should be common sense. Oil floats on water, even boiling water; if it's floating on top of the water, it can't keep the pasta on the bottom from sticking, can it? Even putting the pasta through the oil on the way down won't help. If you want your pasta not to stick together, boil it in plenty of salted water, then save a bit of the cooking water for when you finish your pasta in the sauce (you do that, right?)


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85 comments
MarillionFan
MarillionFan

I keep telling Delia about this but she won't llisten. Silly tart.

MarillionFan

Dave
Dave

The oil in the pasta water may not prevent sticking but it does reduce boiling over.

Sophia Green
Sophia Green

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Chris H
Chris H

I tried making burritos with cold tortillas once. The tortillas cracked very easily.

thehippiechick
thehippiechick

*nods* Oil is a last-ditch effort ONLY when you're not paying attention & realize your pot's boiling over. #fb

dblanchard
dblanchard

I don't add a drop of oil to my pasta water to keep the pasta from sticking, I do it to break the surface tension of the water to prevent the water from boiling over. Bring a pot of water to a steady boil, dump your pasta in, add a pinch of salt, a drop of oil, and move on while it comes back up to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it cook till al dente while you make salad or whatnot.

Sounds simple, and it is when you don't have company over and your kids aren't fighting with their kids. In that scenario, the spot of oil gives a little more flexibility.

So, holding the knife by the handle is wrong, even if your index finger isn't sprawling across the back of the blade? Why do knives have handles?

Charlotte Moss
Charlotte Moss

Just a thought - adding oil to pasta water isn't usually done to stop it sticking. It's actually done to stop it boiling over if you can't afford one of those massive "proper" pasta pans.

Jorgie
Jorgie

The tone of your article makes you sound like an ass.

Some of us put a little oil in the water to cut down on the foaming of the protiens that float to the surface.

Lanozira
Lanozira

The article title,"Five Things TV Chefs Do That Are Wrong", is inappropriate. It's not really as much about right or wrong as it is about best practices. For instance, it's not really "wrong" to oil your pasta water, but a cook who's aiming to make the best pasta in a traditional sense, will not oil the water. It's not "wrong" to salt the outside of a piece of meat and ignore the inside. There are no hard and fast rules about keeping the application of seasoning and flavorings consistent throughout a piece of food. Marinating and brining are two other and different methods for infusing moisture and flavors into food. As far as holding a knife properly, common sense should prevail (it IS sharp!) as well as efficient and ease of use. Regarding tortillas; they're pretty tough and soggy if not pre-heated and traditionally, they are warmed. Generally, putting hot food into or onto something cold is not good practice. As far as tasting baked goods right out the oven, if you don't want to burn the inside of your mouth, you'll wait and I'm sure the TV chefs do or they taste a precooled sample instead.

Cooking is pretty much a "taste" thing and taste is a very subjective thing. Cook so it tastes good to you. If you enjoy eating and cooking, then you'll practice and try to improve your methods and study and learn the various traditions of preparing food so you can be freer to alter them to suit your taste. When all is said and done, what most TV cooks are trying to do is encourage you to get out there a make yourself some "good eats".

Fred
Fred

Mario Batali might have a heart attack because he's a fat pig. He is also a fake Italian - New Jersey style.

Kitchenworker
Kitchenworker

1. Different people have varied knife techniques. There is no 1 perfect way. 2. Oil in pasta water does help stop the pasta from sticking.3. I've worked in restaurants for years and have dealt with many tortillas. Cold isn't optimum, but most people don't keep tortillas in the freezer anyways. I worked in one kitchen where we did. It wasn't a big issue.4. Yes marinating is a great way to flavor meat. This doesn't mean that seasoning a piece of meat is wrong. You always have to season un-marinated meat.5. Noone on this entire planet who watched cooking shows believes they are pulling the pie they just prepared 30 seconds ago out of an oven, and having it fully baked.

Terrible terrible article.

Matt
Matt

How about where they say the seering meat seals in the juices? It doesn't! Searing meet creates flavor, creates a crust but it does not cauterize the meat.

DanGarion
DanGarion

I gotta say a lot of the comments in here sure make a number of you out to be elitists. Who cares what ingredients people use as long as the food tastes good, in the end that is what really matters. Oh god forbid someone use a canned vegetable! Blasphemy!

porcamadonna
porcamadonna

I have repeatedly heard Mario Batali mispronounce bruschetta with the "sshh" So 'splain dat! Is he talking down or dumbing it down for the plebes? El Coche anaranjado.

Sapsucker
Sapsucker

Well, if we're going to be nit-picky, it's try "to" replicate, not try "and" replicate.

Rog
Rog

Mainly, with the exception of America's Test Kitchen, TV cooks just all say the same thing -- especially the Food Network cooks that are more celebrity than chef. You literally hear them saying the same things, verbatim, at times. It's just entertainment and a ratings game that pretends to be about cooking, for an overweight audience that is probably never going to actually cook anything. And look how grossly overweight and unhealthy many of the "chefs" are -- Paula Deen, Mario Batali, Ina Garten. Yuk. Plus, I realize how weak their recipes are when I watch the amount of salt they have to add sauces and things. Good cooking doesn't require that much salt or butter, but bad cooking does.

Jpleet07
Jpleet07

One other mistake - one included here - is the amount of salt used by professional cooks on TV and in many restaurants. Most of know by now that this is not needed, actually blocks the natural flavors of the food and is unhealthy, to boot. Unfortunately, when one is used to large amounts of salt in food, the salt acts almost like an addiction: you need more and more of it to taste it at all.

Tony F.
Tony F.

OMG TV is not real life?!?!?

iceman4444
iceman4444

dwayne she is the highest paid tv cook on television. Seeing rachel ray open cans is a joke. You can make 30 minute meals without opening cans. So to be fair your defense of her is wrong. Like Sarah Palin, people could care less what she does and says because she is 40 going on 16, acts like a cute girl, has cute catch phrases and people love it.

If you cant' cook vegetables in 4-10 minutes in a skillet, you are not that good a cook. Jacque Pepin is one of the great chefs and his techniques are simple and easy to use. I'm sorry; if you are opening canned vegetables and fruits you are a pathetic cook, or a simple home cook.

Another thing many do is not clean the bowls of batter with spatulas, double dip when they taste something, and ridiculously touch the tops of oil or vinegar spouts to fish, raw meat, or even raw chicken. If you do that it's contaminated and should never be used again.

Americans love celebs more than any other country in the world. It isn't even close. And image is over substance every time.

iceman4444
iceman4444

Lets face it; tv chefs are all about catch phrases and how cute they can be. Rachel Rays recipes are ridiculous. I also see chefs putting strawberries or even pomegranate seeds in risotto and everything else they can find.

Putting oil in the pasta is done by rank amateurs. You want the pasta to keep the starch so the pasta sauce will stick to it. If your pasta water is boiling over the temperature is too high. Also keeping a wooden spoon in the pot will break up the surface tension of the water and keep it from boiling. NEVER put oil in your water.

Professional Chef
Professional Chef

This is the 2nd dumbest article I have ever read on the whole internet.

Jtsmith
Jtsmith

Putting oil in the pasta water is actually to reduce surface tension on the top of the water. As starches are given off by the pasta that is cooking, the water will bubble over if not monitored, but the oil stops the water from bubbling up and spilling over. And for the guy that says "If your pasta water is boiling over, either you have used too small a pot or too much pasta for the amount of water", you've clearly never made homemade pasta, which will have been freshly dusted with flour to keep it from sticking, thus leading to a good bit of extra starches in the water. Also, if all you're after is salting the meat evenly, don't marinate, brine.

Susanjarrell
Susanjarrell

Why why why use the phrase "money shot"? Can we come up with a term not borrowed from porn?

Nimnio
Nimnio

1. There is no one perfect way, but some are better than others. The technique this article suggests is better than most.2. Whether or not the oil prevents the pasta sticking is moot from this article's point of view: the author always finishes cooking his pasta in the sauce.4. Read more carefully: he doesn't say to not season meat.

This article has merit.

Lanozira
Lanozira

Well, in my experience, searing, if done correctly (that means that you don't break through the seared crust), does "seal" in the juices. When I make burgers, for instance, I warn my guests to pierce the burger first before taking the first bite, otherwise they get a burst of very hot juices in the face and on their hands. When I sear a steak, a nice crust is formed and when properly rested only releases a small amount of juice with most of it nicely locked into the meat for maximum succulence.

HryPop
HryPop

No you are right Matt, Alton dispelled that myth for us, for those that claimed Julia said they use salt volume for the camera I guess never noticed in her day she was using the little girl with the umbrella salt and pouring it out of the metal spout. She, like every decent chef today, said to season every layer for the best flavor. The holding of a knife is true but there is a right way, a wrong way and then how everyone else does it. By the way you should never try to catch your falling slicing knife. I gree it should never have to be said but when mine fell off the board I tried to catch it and though the cuts were nice and smooth they did get a little deep. Canned veggies are not bad and nobody ever said they were. The process they go through to package them does change the flavor a little. Frozen veggies don't have the additives that are found in canned food but I notice that never stopped many chefs from grabbing a can of beans and washing them off and cooking with them.

Julia made finished products in advance to show them off and seasoned her food and sometimes even held a knife wrong. Let's go into your kitchen and collect hours of video on you next and see what we find. A double dipper maybe?

Fred
Fred

Batali makes a lot of mistakes with the Italian language.I think he is a disgusting pig.

ThinkingofFood
ThinkingofFood

So, the dictionaries list both pronunciations... which is correct?

Lanozira
Lanozira

Salt is used for a number of purposes in cooking. Among them, and probably most important, is seasoning. Salt when used as seasoning, brings out flavors in food and affects the way we taste food. Salt (and pepper) have been used for centuries to more fully realize flavors and the experience of tasting. Seasoning food with them is fundamental to our eating experience. Period! Salt is also used to help foods release water (or other fluids) either during cooking or in other ingredient preparation. That's also why it's used in a lot of curing and preserving processes. The use of the best and freshest ingredients possible permits a more judicious use of seasonings and the best and healthiest eating experiences.

superchef
superchef

This is not true. Not only do you need salt to live but it makes food not taste bland. The whole salt fear thing is bogus unless you have high blood pressure problems.

Dwayne
Dwayne

Iceman - You're exactly right, but that was my point. Rachel's show is for the simple home cook. My point was she's not a chef, doesn't claim to be one, and has recipes for simple home cooks. So here's my defense again: If she opens an occassional can, who cares? Obviously, you do, but why? Why are you so militant about what other people do with their food?

ThinkingofFood
ThinkingofFood

Finally, iceman4444, here is a post with some substance! Please stop harping on the pasta issue! You are correct in your asseveration concerning oil-on-pasta water, but; PLEASE!!! We all have our methods and practices when we cook; there are relatively few fiats when it comes to food and cooking - oil in pasta water is not one of them - it's OK... Now, cross-contamination and "celebrity"-chef-censure should be.

cheers all!

iceman4444
iceman4444

of course the oil will stop the boiling over, but it ruins the pasta!!! Any chef with any type of training knows this. If you do this you don't know what you are doing and are being lazy. If you oiled the pasta in an Italian or French restaurant they would fire you on the spot. Just watch your pasta and put it at a proper temperature so it won't boil over. You shouldn't just walk away and think all is good.

Watch the water, get it to a rolling boil, and turn down the heat. It amazes me how so many don't even know how to make pasta. NEVER EVER EVER OIL THE PASTA. your sauce will not stick properly to the pasta, and it will ruin the texture.

JRG
JRG

From Wikipedia: "Originally, in general film-making usage the term "money shot" was a reference to the scene that cost the most money to produce;"

But you are right - most people think of the porn version, because porn in what we think alot about.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Watch Giada de Laurentiis or Nigella Lawson take a bite of food at the end of a segment and tell me that analogy is not spot on.

Pistol
Pistol

1. The japanese method of holding a knife is with the finger along the spine. The western way of holding a knife is as described in, what I think is, a pretty poor article.

Fred
Fred

It's an Italian word. Pronounce it correctly, or call it something else. It's just pretentious to use a foreign name if you don't know how to use it correctly.

Charlotte Moss
Charlotte Moss

You can't turn an electric hob down like you can a gas hob... so oiling the water is better than having half the starchy water ending up all over the hob in a mess.

SERIOUSLY
SERIOUSLY

Half of the people using it ARE NOT CHEFS WITH TRAINING. They are real people, without time to cook like they are on a freakin' tv show. Relax and mind your business and let people do what they want. If they want to be lazy while cooking (maybe ohhh I don't know...they have KIDS, or PETS, or just many things going on), as long as you aren't eating it, you have no reason to be rude to strangers about their cooking preferences.

iceman4444
iceman4444

Giada is over the top trying to be sexy. She acts like a 18 year old rich party girl at a girl at a girls gone wild taping.

Her slow tastes and moans, and licking the spoon slowly and then widening her eyes super wide is so sophomoric it's ridiculous.

Her shows are a joke.

Adsf
Adsf

So when guy chefs take a bite of food at the end of a segment, what does that mean...

JRG
JRG

Yes, but she's quite attractive; I'm not really interested in what she's cooking.

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