For today’s Tech Tuesday, we’re covering mise-en-place, the French culinary phrase which means to gather and arrange ingredients and tools needed for cooking. Literally, it means to “set in place”. It’s one of the first lessons taught to culinary students because it is the system used in professional kitchens that helps them run so efficiently. By organizing ingredients that a chef will require for the menu items that will be prepared during a shift, everything is easily accessible. Fortunately, the practice is also effective in home kitchens.
Practically speaking, your mise-en-place involves gathering and prepping all of your ingredients before you start to cook. That could means vegetables are measured, peeled, diced, chopped, etc. in the way they will be used for the dish you plan to make. It’s nice to separate each ingredient in separate bowls, unless you intentionally want to combine them (for example, spices can be combined if going in the dish at the same time). Your mies-en-place may take a bit of time to prepare in the beginning, but it saves you time in the long run. With everything ready to go in front of you, you’re able to be a more organized and efficient home cook. The practice avoids the possibility of having to scramble to find a needed ingredient that may be tucked away in a cupboard or refrigerator. Instead, having a mise-en-place will ensure all that you need will be right at your fingertips. Sometimes I measure and lay out all my ingredients, other times I chop everything in advance and place each ingredient in separate bowls. It really helps to streamline the whole cooking process and has helped me become a more efficient better cook.
For many culinary professionals, the phrase has a deeper meaning. Mise-en-place is a mindset, a way of life, a way of concentrating your mind to only focus on the aspects that you need to be working on at that moment, ridding yourself of distractions. It’s all very Zen-like, don’t you think? It’s finding mindfulness in the kitchen—creating a clear space and a clear mind, both free of clutter, in preparation to cook.
How about you, do you prepare your mise-en-pace before cooking?
My mise-en-place above is for this easy and very flavorful soup that I often make at home. Here, it is served with farro. Here’s the recipe: Golden Lentil Soup. Today on Snapchat (ptworldcitizen), I talked about my mise-en-place for vegetable stock (recipe coming up in my next post).