Neil Perry's chicken cacciatore. Photo: William Meppem
1. The main difference between professional and home cooks is seasoning. If you learn to properly season with salt, you get food with great flavour.
2. Buy the best ingredients you can afford - the quality of the result is directly related to the quality you put in the dish.
3. Focus on never overcooking seafood. It will dazzle your friends.
4. Take notes on the dishes you cook - time, temperature and result - and next time use those to improve what you cook. It's about learning from mistakes, no matter how small or large.
1. Read your recipes in their entirety to properly understand the method. Be organised, use sharp knives and work cleanly – which admittedly I sometimes struggle to do!
2. Don’t be afraid to use salt, spice and sugar as specified. This is so important, and can be the difference between a ‘flat’ dish and one that really sings. Always taste as you cook, and learn to trust your palate.
3. Learn how to handle high heats on the stovetop to seal, sear and caramelise properly, and make sure you use the right pan or dish for what, and how, you’re cooking – it can mean the difference between golden and perfectly cooked, and stewed and overcooked.
1. Cook with love and laughter. Put on the music you love to listen to (or dance to) when you are preparing your meal to set the mood. Cooking should be fun.
2. Food is medicine and food can be poison, depending on what you choose to cook and eat. My philosophy is simple: is this meal going to make me stronger or is it going to weaken me? Once you start looking at food that way, the choices you make are pretty easy.
3. I will always spend the extra dollars on produce that has been grown sustainably, without chemicals, and buy my meat and seafood from people who share this philosophy.
4. Experiment with recipes, for that is how magic is made. Sure, there will be mistakes from time to time - that is part of the learning process - but there will also be triumphs.
1. Use fewer ingredients. There is a tendency, especially in Asian dishes, to throw every ingredient we have into a pot, wok or pan. The fewer ingredients we use, the cleaner and more distinctive the final flavours.
2. Rest (just about) everything. Most foods - including roasts, salad dressings, stir-fries, stews and curries - will benefit from a bit of time between preparing and serving.
3. Divide the task of making a meal into preparing, cooking and serving, and finish each stage before moving on to the next. If you're still hastily cutting vegetables while something is cooking in a pan you'll feel rushed, the food will suffer and your kitchen will look like a disaster zone.
4. The goal should always be to enhance the natural flavours already present in the ingredients we choose.
1. Go easy on your baking mistakes and try not to be distracted by your successes.
2. We're lucky to have the ingredients, the time and the equipment to work with. Remind yourself of that when you can't be bothered.
3. All baking benefits from minimal handling: if you don't need to touch it, hands off.
4. Appreciate the flavour of each ingredient before you combine them, then do everything to preserve
the flavour through to the plate.