10-16-2014, 10:10 PM
#1
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I mean that to be a question even for the budding cook who just began cooking, no matter what the age. Pretty much, that means you even if you only grill steaks.

Why ask this question? The point is this, everyone began somewhere and pretty much I can't see the learning stopping once it begins. Let's face it humans like food, and we really like good food. So it only follows that when someone knows how to cook, that they try to get better at it. Anyone wanting to get better at cooking would do well to listen to others and how they got to where they are. The good thing is that cooking is actually easy. Master a few basic techniques and one can do a great deal to feed oneself. That's absolutely true. Case in point... who can't make the No Knead Artisan Bread? Anyone who makes it learned how to make a poolish (taken to extremes) but that word wasn't used. From there it's a simple matter to branch out into other breads by learning how to knead dough while still using a poolish to add to the dough. Bread making is easy and folks did it by hand for thousands of years. They used a poolish back then an folks still do today. Basic techniques... That's all cooking is.

OK, Since it's my thread I get to go first. Mom taught me at an early age. I have no idea how young I was but I was young. Mom cooked basic "stick to the ribs food" and that's what I pretty much make. After learning from her my education continued through recipe books over the years. After awhile one simply learns what works and what won't for technique and procedures. Today I glean from PBS, Cooks Illustrated, Country Cooking and such. But the basics came from Mom. When it comes to BBQ I learned from the school of hard knocks to begin with, then later from others in the know, once I got a good BBQ setup. SousVide, that info came from the same BBQ site to begin with (believe it or not! Primogrillforum.com) and later, other various SV sites on the web. Sous Vide is incredibly easy to do, and it's definitely a guy thing. What gent doesn't like playing with a butane torch or fire in a grill!?

When I was quite young I was baking cakes and making dishes for Thanksgiving dinner and such. I can't remember many years when I didn't make the dressing for the turkey, or the fresh cranberry sauce, under Moms tutelage of course. Mom did the bulk of the cooking; I was there to make special things (at my whim) and to help with the burden on special occasions. In her later years I got to teach Mom a few things. I would have loved to have seen myself through Moms eyes. I am by no means a chef, just someone who can feed himself and others. :-) I like food and I like tasty food even more.

So how did you start? And I do mean anyone. Even if you just began and your girlfriend showed you one recipe, or even if the extent of your cooking is no knead artisan bread.

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 10-16-2014, 11:03 PM
#2
  • Snuff
  • Senior Member
  • Belgium
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I remember that even from a very young age I was interested in cooking, always watched grandma and wanted to help out. My ambition was to become a professional chef but my parents forbid me.

I was left to myself from a young age so I tried things out (nothing special), then joined the army at 16 and in my free time liked to experiment further with cooking. My wife is a great cook btw (European food), I do the Asian stuff.

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 10-16-2014, 11:07 PM
#3
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I learned from watching both my parents when I was young. My mother was always working; and I only saw her when she came home and was getting dinner started, or on the weekends chores around the house and laundry. I figured that those were the times I could truly spend with her. So I picked up a lot. The rest of the time I was at school or outside playing with friends.

Every now and then, my father would throw down on the grill or broil up a juicy Sirloin Steak. So, really it was just by picking things up from site.

Over the last 4 years or so, my wife and I enjoy our time in the kitchen, and her beautiful Italian self, loves to show off her God-Given chops! I throw down more than I ever had before now, this past year, from the kitchen, to the grill. No fastfood for me over here.

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 10-17-2014, 01:56 AM
#4
  • Gordy
  • Member
  • Wherever I am!
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I learned to cook just as soon as I moved out of my parents house. My mother, as normal was the cook, my father and various family members told me she was the best cook around and couldn't understand why I was such a "fussy eater". I just didn't care too much for most of what she made. I hated vegetables, and most meats, except chicken. I was the black sheep of the family for this one reason! I moved out and had to learn to look after myself. I slowly discovered that I wasn't a fussy eater at all - my mother was just a ridiculously bad cook!
I fell in with some good friends with the same passion for food and cooking. I started eating every food I could get, tried and enjoyed everything!!! The food I was now in love with was just properly prepared, properly cooked and properly presented. I experimented with everything. Anytime I had to eat at my parents house further reinforced how bad it actually was. I'll give you examples - 8oz sirloin steak cooked for 25mins, a 4lb pork belly for 45mins, chicken drumsticks for 10 mins on the BBQ. Yes - food poisoning was regular - never ever blamed on her cooking. She made a mince steak stew by adding the meat straight out of the fridge, browned off the "lumps", removed from the pan, crudely chopped onions into the pan, added water, cooked for 2 mins, add the meat, add gravy browning - she still does it. Now, I did cook for them at times but I gave up years ago as there were all sorts of derogatory comments from my mother, and my father later confided that he loved my cooking, "never tasted better" but couldn't dare say in front of my mother. I regularly cook at events and all sorts of gatherings and I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a very good cook, and I'm often told that by the guys who I look up to as great cooks.

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 10-17-2014, 02:52 AM
#5
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My mother was a brilliant cook who could do it all. When I started living by myself, I started consulting with her because I missed the good food. I found I wasn't half bad.

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 10-17-2014, 08:11 AM
#6
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I guess going off to college forced me to cook for myself. The roommates just ate crap. I on the other hand started with breakfast tacos. I lived off those for a least two years. I made them all kinds of ways and was always on the lookout for a good Texas salsa in a bottle. I had two friends who were from Vietnam, they fled the country after the war. They taught me what a rice cooker was...and their's was always full. They would add chicken, pork or beef and chili sauce that was hot and tangy. Good memories. I learned a lot from them. I'm basically self taught, baking is not my thing but I did make some mighty fine biscuits the other day...lots of fun. I guess my thing is grilling, soups, chili's, stews, braises. We cook fish a lot, but I keep it really simple by just broiling with a few spices.

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 10-17-2014, 08:40 AM
#7
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Watching and helping my mother, school (yes, learning to make food is/was a subject in Norwegian Junior High), necessity...

...it's amazing how much fancy cooking one can teach oneself if the goal is to impress a girl - like making sauce from roux and cheap red wine Wink

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 10-17-2014, 09:13 AM
#8
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The Food Network. I used to travel a lot and never really cooked much.
Once we moved to Texas and I was at home all the time, we watched the food network, and yes, Rachel Ray...but hey, we learned. I also like Alton Brown, Tyler Florence, sometimes Paula Dean, Giada, Ann Burell, Jamie Oliver...

Then I got into BBQ, got a smoker, or 4, 3-4 grills (down to one each now) and was on many BBQ forums. I really learned to try new things.
We used to follow recipes to the letter, but now all we use them for is ideas and guidelines.

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 10-17-2014, 09:16 AM
#9
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thrown into the pool. at 15 was a short order cook at the El Cortez hotel in San Diego. flipped toast in a aluminum pan to learn how to flip eggs. 24 seat snack bar that fed about 250 people in three hours during their convention season. then learned thru Ruebens/ Cocos how to manage restaurants and ended up in Redding, California at "Docs Hilltop Skyroom" love going to high class restaurants and let pros cook for me. most common fun is going to Portland Oregon to see the food at the carts on the street. big write up today on eater about those.

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 10-17-2014, 09:48 AM
#10
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Started with making homemade pizzas at home at age 14. Started working in restaurants at age 15. Did everything from dishwashing, prep cooking, line cooking, sauce man, fish cutter, etc. Much of that was at a higher end seafood restaurant.

They were never just jobs to me. I was soaking up all manner of techniques, and for me most importantly, the way that different ingredients combine and which ones tend to go together for different cuisines.

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 10-17-2014, 09:49 AM
#11
  • freddy
  • Banned
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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I am the world's worst cook. The only recent success was Brian's wonderful no knead bread. For Thanksgiving I can, and do, roast a chicken, make mashed potatoes (with the skins because I love them that way), and roasted Brussels sprouts (which I love but wouldn't necessarily serve to anyone else...hey, I like the crispy bits. Rolleyes ) Thank goodness there is no one else present for my Thanksgiving dinner because I'd lose friends otherwise. 24

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 10-17-2014, 12:11 PM
#12
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How did I learn to cook?

Easy - I married a woman who couldn'tBiggrin

For the first two years of are marriage we commuted together to work. When we got home whom ever had an easier day did the cooking. It quickly became apparent that I was better than my bride. The rest is history.

Phil

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 10-26-2014, 03:55 PM
#13
  • kav
  • Banned
  • east of the sun,west of the moon
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I didn't learn, so much as picked it up by osmosis.I was born near Chicago. We had a live in housekeeper named Noni from Barbados and my earliest sentient memory was eating beans with her and still love them.
We were back home in California on the patio of a Hungarian restaurant filled with customers. A very ill, and nearly destitute Bela Lugosi came walking by with his German Shepherd. We had an extra chair and invited him to eat with us. I remember sitting in his lap while he sang a gypsy lullaby and sharing a common spoon for goulash.
I think those two events primed me for my avocation and meeting peoples. I pulled KP in my Icebreaker's galley when most of the crew was violently sick from these monster rollers we fought for three days. THAT taught me to be safe in a kitchen and appreciate even simple setups. I was on a Clovis era kill site in Wyoming; UCB hippie crew that managed to alienate every local Buccaroo. I was cooking in my Dutch Ovens- GOULASH and porkbelly beans the vegans wouldn't touch. 2 very exhausted riders came in and the ovens were like a shrine to pilgrims.I made friends that vouched for me applying at the Grand Canyon mule concession years later.
Food is probably the most holy of things to share and make friends with. I am blessed. Name a ethnic group and greater SOCAL has their cuisine.
My Japanese neighbor has been teaching me to make sushi lately. And Jaques Pepin's shows take priority over Doctor Oz's healthy eating.

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 10-26-2014, 05:43 PM
#14
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about 2 decades ago i needed a part-time job and was employed in a fancy mexican restaurant. i had exaggerated big time about my cooking skills throughout the interview so the chef saw no need to test my skills. i must have been really convincing Biggrin

it actually turned out really well - the only complains i received in the beginning were me not being quick enough + got black looks because i was vegetarian and refused to taste the food i made Hambre

[Image: Ace9ukQ.jpg]

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 10-26-2014, 06:01 PM
#15
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When I was living in a college fraternity, part of my "pledge" duties was helping out in the kitchen. We had a Chinese chef who cooked all our dinners, and I started hanging around with him, watching and asking questions, and over the next 3 years I learned quite a lot from him.

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 10-26-2014, 11:33 PM
#16
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I envy you gents who were able to learn from true masters of the kitchen.

Kav, we don't have cable, but now we have channel 10.2 which is PBS "Create", so now I have Jacque Pepin again, as well as others, but I really like Jacque and his simple cooking.

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 10-27-2014, 12:07 AM
#17
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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As a child of six I was separated away from my family. I had many chores to perform including simple breakfast preparation including skimming the cream from the milk pails I used to pick up from the nearby dairy and whipping it. I used to wash my own clothing, too. No shoes allowed. The place? Fairbridge Farm near Pinjarra, Western Australia. Ben may even have heard of it. It's still there but is now where there is a local folk festival.

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 10-27-2014, 01:23 AM
#18
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that must have been a rather brutal way to set off your cooking skills. i readily admit i could not cut a straight slice of bread until i was 20 - but my path through life is still rather curved.

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 10-27-2014, 03:54 AM
#19
  • Coyote
  • Senior Member
  • Hondo, TX USA
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I learned from my Mom, my Dad, the Boy Scouts, and from reading cookbooks. Surprisingly, neither of my Grandmother's were good cooks...very unusual for their generation. One actually used ketchup as her base for spaghetti sauce. We always dreaded going there for Sunday Supper when we new it would be spaghetti..........

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 10-27-2014, 03:58 AM
#20
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(10-27-2014, 01:23 AM)tonsorius Wrote: that must have been a rather brutal way to set off your cooking skills. i readily admit i could not cut a straight slice of bread until i was 20 - but my path through life is still rather curved.

Not quite as brutal as that, Marius but certainly hadn't disadvantaged me. I am awestruck when I see a someone who cannot use a hammer and a saw. Or who cannot boil an egg. Actually, I am a very good cook, despite humble origins.

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