Boy, it was not easy pulling myself out of bed this morning. I met up with a friend last night after work at some fashion party which means lots of mindless chattering and free booze. I woke up a little groggy and "foggy-minded." Now on to some practical tips.
Every chef understands the importance of mise en place. Mise en place means "putting in place" or "everything in place" as defined by the CIA (the Culinary Institute of America, not the other CIA). The idea is simple. Having all your ingredients out and measured before starting to cook means you won't have to stop in the middle of assembling a dish to chop up an ingredient or something like that. Mise en place makes a cook/chef more efficient in the kitchen and saves precious time.
Before I begin cooking, I read through the recipe 3-4 times. I then take out all the necessary ingredients and begin washing, chopping, measuring etc. Once that is done, I go as far as lining up my ingredients in the order I will need them. I make sure I have put away anything I don't need back in its place so the counters are clear of everything but the essentials. Then, the cooking begins.
I have been cooking this way for a few years now and I can say with 100% confidence that it has made me a better home cook. There's no way I can forget an ingredient or feel out of control and potentially mess up a recipe. I even do a mise en place in the morning when preparing scrambled eggs. Feel free to let me know if you think mise en place is important and if it's made you a better cook.