Strong opinions, weakly held

Home cooks versus restaurant cooks

Food author Michael Ruhlman on the three biggest differences between home cooking and restaurant cooking:

Amazon.com: Aside from a heavy hand with butter, what are the top three things that set restaurant cooking apart from home cooking?

Ruhlman: Proper use of salt throughout the cooking process and fresh stock are THE main differences. Neither are difficult to do or to learn. I’d say the next one is getting your pan to the right temperature.

I actually have a whole theory on this subject that I don’t have time to type up right now, relating to which types of dishes you probably ought to order out and which types you are best to make at home. Ruhlman’s answer seems to pertain more to basic skills that many home chefs lack.


  1. I LOVE to eat out, but of course can’t always afford to, so I’m always looking for ways to make the best food that I can at home, while keeping a resturant quality to the meal. I use everything from cooking shows, to cook books and plenty of online research. Check out http://www.whatsyourmedstyle.com/medstyle/demo.aspx?cat=b Bertolli has these Mediterranean style frozen dinners that are SO easy to prepare. Also on the site is Rocco DiSpitito preparing some amazing dishes! Rocco’s tips are amazing, he’s one of a few pro chefs who’s oppinion I really trust.. He puts a lot of great personal info in his video blogs too. Everything from family secrets to old personal photos… Fun!!! Check em’ out, I work with them so I have the inside scoop. But we could all use a little help in the kitchen, cant we!?

  2. I don’t know that lack of fresh stock falls into a “basic skills” category — it’s more about free time and how much of it you dedicate to fueling yourself. I’d love to make stock, bake bread, and lots of other things (heck, I’d like to take racquetball lessons, improve my declarer play at bridge, etc. etc.), and I have the capacity to do it, in theory, but that’s not how I’ve budgeted my time. the fact that doing everything the right way is your business (rather than one of many competing priorities) is an unavoidable difference between professional cooking and anything that goes on at home…

  3. Huh, excessive butter and salt as the primary differences? Maybe that’s why eating out has dropped off my priorities list.

    I’ve got a friend who’s a professional chef with whom I used to go out to dinner regularly, and she’d almost always order based on ingredients rather than technique, because she could largely replicate any technique at home.

    Now that I’ve figured out where to get the better ingredients and figured out how to cook ’em to my preferences, eating out has become almost entirely a matter of not having time, rather than being a treat.

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