Kitchen Confidential

What follows are secrets for culinary success from local chefs and restaurateurs – some of whom specialize in a particular cuisine, some of whom have spent years fine-tuning their establishments, but all of whom know their way around the kitchen.

What follows are secrets for culinary success from local chefs and restaurateurs – some of whom specialize in a particular cuisine, some of whom have spent years fine-tuning their establishments, but all of whom know their way around the kitchen.

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Keeping a Clean Kitchen

One important thing we stress at Lupi’s is keeping our kitchens clean, neat, and organized. Clean up as you go and even sweep up between tasks if needed. This makes the final cleaning at the end of your meal a breeze. Also, having a place for everything and storing everything in its place is imperative. If you’re in a rush, no time is wasted looking for misplaced items; they’re right where they belong. Another trick is labeling and dating your food, particularly your perishables, when they’re bought or prepared. Then store by placing newly purchased items directly behind the same older one. This practice helps reduce food waste by preventing spoilage caused by losing items in the refrigerator and purchasing unnecessary duplicates. Together, these tips help to ensure fresh, quality food is prepared in a clean, neat space.


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Dorris Shober
Lupi’s Pizza Pies

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Building a Better Burger

Cooking the perfect hamburger starts with using the correct ground beef. The fat makes the flavor – you should never use less than 20% fat. I like to use an 80/20 mix (80% protein and 20% fat). The meat should be rolled into a ball at 3.5 to 4 oz., depending on your preference, and just tight enough to form a nice round patty when pressed. Your grill should be set to at least 350°. Place your patty on the grill and let it sear. Do not be in a hurry to flip the patty; the patty needs to cook, and it should cook for 3-4 minutes. If the meat juices appear on top of the patty, flip it. Let it cook until firm to the touch. I cook all my hamburgers to well done, but just well done (a 155° center).


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Jim Richards
Five Guys Burger and Fries

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Perfecting Pizza

I have two “secrets” for home pizza chefs looking for great results. First, weigh your dough ingredients. You will find that many good dough recipes list the weights of ingredients alongside, or in lieu of, volume measurements. The reason for this is that volume measurements can change slightly from one brand of flour to the next. Relying on the weight measurements will get you correct dough hydration and a better tasting dough. Second, let your sauce come to room temperature before putting it on your dough. Applying a cold sauce will slow the dough’s baking process, and your end result will be either overcooked toppings or an undercooked crust.


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Brion Voges
Fiamma Pizza Company

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Getting Back to the Basics

There are four secrets to success that every home chef should know. First, mise en place – this is a French term for making sure you have all your ingredients and cooking utensils in one place so that you’re not having to run around gathering your items while trying to cook. Second, own a sharp knife. This is super important for not only being able to cut items correctly, but also for your safety. Third, salt and taste as you go. It’s a lot easier to add ingredients than it is to take them out, especially salt. And finally, read your recipe completely before starting to cook. Too many times I have seen people start recipes and not realize they missed a complete step that needed to be done, then had to completely start over.


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Heath Bowen
Operating Partner
Taco Mamacita

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Flavoring Your Favorite Dishes

Use fresh herbs (such as cilantro, basil, parsley, and mint) when cooking. Whether you source herbs at a local farmers market or grow an herb garden at your own home, fresh herbs are always going to offer a better flavor profile than dried herbs. The flavor of the finished dish is also easier to control with fresh herbs. Here’s a pro tip: If you are making a soup, stew, or even a sauce, try bundling the fresh herbs on their stems with butcher’s twine and adding it to your pot. This method will extract the flavor of the herbs without incorporating chopped herbs directly into the dish.


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Chase Ingalls
Frothy Monkey

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Grilling Guidelines

It is really important to marinate your meats, if not overnight, at least 4-5 hours before cooking; this helps the meat to soak in all the flavors and tenderize. Another important tip is for the meat to be close to room temperature before it hits the hot pan or the grill, so let the meat rest once you take it out of the refrigerator. For the perfect tasting meat, salt always has to be on point – which is easier said than done. Once the meat is seared or grilled, let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting it. This helps all the juices to rest inside and go back into the membranes, which in turn will keep the meat very moist, tender, and juicy. Make sure to use a sharp knife to get those perfect chunks while cutting, and please make sure to use your knuckles to guide the knife with your nondominant hand in order to avoid getting finger injuries.


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Kush Shah
Dos Bros

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Choosing Tools Wisely

Don’t fill your kitchen with fancy gadgets and pretty tools. Nothing you store in your kitchen should have only one function. When selecting tools, you shouldn’t choose based on looks. Looks can be inspiring, and an attractive knife might make you want to use it more often. But instead, buy tools that are comfortable, durable, and above all, useful. If it doesn’t fit your décor, you can always put it away when you’re finished cooking.


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B.J. Hightower
Tremont Tavern

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Serving Up Scrumptious Sushi

Here at Sushi Nabe, we use a shallow rice bowl – called a hangiri – to improve the flavors and texture of our rice. We cool the rice in this bowl after cooking it to increase the aroma of the rice. Fortunately, by using a hangiri of your own, you can achieve this professional level of sushi-making at home. I would say that this tool is the most important process of sushi-making. The second tip I recommend is using fresh, not frozen or canned, fish for the highest quality and flavor. These two tips combined make for perfect sushi for any type of occasion.


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Yasushi Watanabe
Chef & Owner
Sushi Nabe

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Using Fresh Ingredients

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my career is how important it is to use fresh ingredients. For the best quality food, and for the best flavor, you should always use fresh produce, meat, and dairy; having a fully stocked refrigerator and pantry can help you achieve this. It’s also important that meals be cooked to order. For example, when you make fried chicken, I’ve found it’s best to marinate the chicken in buttermilk for 48 hours, then hand-bread and fry it fresh just before serving – just like we do at Drake’s. This creates a crispy breading and locks in all the juices and flavor.


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José Rangel

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