Overconfidence in the Kitchen

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Confidence is good, right?

Well, there’s confidence and then there’s overconfidence. And by that I really mean there’s knowing what you’re doing and then there’s cockiness.

I can’t stand cockiness. I can’t stand it when someone tells you how good they are when in reality they aren’t that good, they’re mediocre or just don’t have the experience that you do. When researching for this article I discovered that overconfidence comes about through inexperience – and yes, I’ve been there. Just check out my Kitchen Dramas file to see where I went wrong.  Inexperience is great to help you learn, but a pain when you take it to the level of cockiness.

As you might imagine, I was very happy when Katie and Nikki were eliminated last week on My Kitchen Rules. I found them to be cocky and overconfident and very annoying to boot. At the last instant restaurant they were so confident they were doing great that they couldn’t see all the mistakes they were making. Did you see them burn their potato rosti (and burn it in a sandwich press no less!) and provide unappetizing bland looking food? Thankfully they gave their guests decent portions, but compensating with more bad food isn’t necessarily good either. There was plenty of inexperience on display that night.

And that’s where overconfidence in a kitchen can cost you a lot – and I’m not just talking about elimination from a TV competition. I’m taking about safety, flavour, appearance and an all round decent meal. If you want to impress you’ve got to consider all the pieces.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles
at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


Safety can be compromised when you’re overconfident because you begin to cut corners. There is of course something to be said for organising your time effectively but if you’re just cutting corners for the sake of it, watch out.

I’ll give you an example: sharp knives are always better than blunt knives. If you’re using the blunt knife simply because you can’t be bothered washing the sharp knife, then you are bound to cut yourself. Blunt knives bounce off food or get stuck in meat; both of which can become a hazard to you and your fingers. I’ve been there too – and wrote about it in Knife Skills 101.

Contamination and hygiene are other safety issues you need to know about too. Look out for an upcoming post on this. It’s a really important topic and one that people can forget with inexperience and overconfidence.

Therefore, DON’T CUT CORNERS ON SAFETY. Here’s a rather different look to remind you of over confidence and knife skills gone wrong.


Flavour is one of – no, scratch that – THE most important part of any meal. Without flavour you have nothing. If you don’t believe me, then why do we have entire industries trying to come up with fake food flavours? They spend billions so they can make sugar taste like bananas (aka banana lollies) and salt taste like cheese (aka Doritos, etc).

Basically, I’m urging you not to get overconfident with flavour until you learn a bit more. But you might have already become overconfident in one of the two ways listed below without realizing:

  • You always use the same flavour pairing on everything.

  • You underflavour or use no flavour on your dishes.

In the first instance you’re confident that, say, basil and tomato is a combination everyone loves but you put it on toast, in pasta, on potatoes, with burgers, with eggs for breakfast, etc. It’s tasty but it gets really boring for those of us who always eat your meals. Aren’t you bored of it too?

There’s cheese and tomatoes in almost all components of this platter – boring!

In the second instance you’re relying on the flavour of the food to make the meal amazing. Sometimes, and with some foods, this works. Unfortunately a lot of foods (think pasta, potatoes, cucumber, tofu, chicken) are really plan and don’t have any real flavour of their own.

Try something new! Fix your over or under use of flavour by checking out this list of simple flavour pairings from Australian Healthy Food Guide (click on the pdf) to help you spice things up a bit and to be properly confident in your culinary skills. Or you might like to try something a bit more unusual like the pairings listed in this Buzzfeed article.


By appearance, I also mean the presentation of a food or dish. There are some really simple ways of making your dishes look great, and most of them don’t take long to do. If you’re overconfident, you’ll probably put too much on the plate – so put less on the plate to achieve a better appearance. 

Sometimes through inexperience we thrown things together at the last minute, hoping they’ll work. Perhaps its better to spend a minute thinking about how it will look before you throw it together. For instance, instead of putting the parts of a meal around the edges of the plate, pile them up for a change. 

And think about colour. In Katie and Nikki’s overconfidence they made all their meals look he same colour – a bland brownish colour. All foods pretty much fall into six different colour groups – white, yellow, red/orange, blue/purple, black/brown and green. Try to put a few of each colour onto a plate when you’re planning your meals, and try to put colours that compliment each other together (you can always look up the colour wheel if you don’t know). For example, dark green leaves like spinach look great paired with bright yellow capsicum and deep red tomatoes. Or plain white pancakes look good with bright yellow peach slices, red strawberries and dark sprinkles of chocolate.
White, yellow, red and dark make these pancakes look amazing.

An all round decent meal

If you’ve done well on your safety (no cut fingers, food contamination or bouts of food poisoning), added amazing flavour combinations at just the right level and made your food look good (you’ve made everyone drool as soon as the dish hit the table) then you’ll have yourself an all round decent meal.

And that is something that you can (and are allowed) to be confident about. 

So, have you ever been overconfident and caused a few of your own dramas? Let us know in the comments.

Happy eating!

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