Today I want to tell you about being a creative and/or a smart cook. They are not exactly the same thing but both have elements that you need to incorporate into your cooking style, especially if you want the most success in the kitchen (and who doesn’t?).
Why is it important to know about being a smart or creative cook? Well, the more you know, the better you’ll get, the faster your meals will become, and the happier you’ll be. And the happier you are the better you will want to eat and then the real magic will happen – it’s where you’ll achieve your cooking goals. Just like everything I tell you on this blog the point of this post is so that you can be more informed and learn how to be someone who cooks for themselves. Isn’t that a goal you want to achieve?
So what is a creative cook?
A creative cook is someone who uses their knowledge to create and modify meals to suit their own tastes. He or she can cook up all sorts of meals and from all types of foods and somehow make them taste amazing, all from the foods they find in the pantry – sort of like a Masterchef mystery box challenge only done at home for a hungry family.
A creative cook learns which combinations of flavour go together and can exploit these to make better meals based on the recipes they know. It’s not just about following a recipe, it’s also about creating new meals from scratch without a recipe because you can create something using that knowledge. But it’s not just about knowing flavour, it’s about understanding how food works, the general combinations and the balance that makes a meal taste really good. It’s also about knowing when to push the boundaries.
Let’s face it, living with a family is never the same as cooking on a TV show with a fully stocked cupboard. Our lives are messy, we forget things, we need to learn to make do with what’s in our cupboards. We don’t have the budget to always be buying or opening new packets of food so we have to reuse the foods we have on hand. That’s that’s why being a creative cook is the most important thing you can learn for yourself and your family, and especially for your budget.
You can bet that our grandmothers and great grandmothers were creative cooks during the time of the great wars. Scarcity always creates a more creative cook than the wealthy times, and I bet some of the tastiest family meals you remember eating as a kid came from meals created in hard times. Even if we aren’t going through a hard time we can learn to be creative to stick to our family budgets.
But what if you don’t have a family? What if you’re single or are studying full time? Can you still be a creative cook?
A creative cook uses what they have to make decent meals. It can be made from whatever you use on a daily basis and if that means cups of ramen, lean cuisine meals or spaghetti from a tin then use what you’ve got and make most of it.
So what is the smart cook?
Smart cook uses her knowledge as well but in a different way. The smart cook knows techniques and which ones are best suited to the meal she wants to cook. The creative cooks also understands where he can take shortcuts because he knows the techniques well and is familiar with them.
A smart cook knows how the food should look when it’s cooked even before it’s cooked. They know how it should taste before they taste it. They know what to substitute into a meal if they don’t have something on hand. They can keep the meal on budget and can also get everything on the plate in time.
Therefore the smart cook is really an informed cook. This smart cook has taken a few lessons, done some research, and had plenty of practice. During the practice sessions they have made mistakes and learnt what not to do. But they have also taken the time to understand their mistakes and and to improve on them. They know where they went wrong and fixed it for the next time.
It’s just like me and my attempt at cooking stuffed capsicum. I made it once and it was bad. I made it again and it was better. The third time was ok. The fourth time was the best, but my 5th time making it will be the best of all. Each mistake I made got incorporated into the next attempt. I’m not there yet but I will be because I am a smart cook. I’m sure you have a recipe or a dish you’re learning to make better so before long you’ll be a smart cook too (if you aren’t already).
Can you be both smart and creative?
Everyone needs a touch of the creative cook for some variety in your meals, but you also need the smart cook 80% of the time too. Creativity only works so well, but being informed and knowledgeable means you can create more (and sometimes create in bigger and better ways). Why do you think chefs from fancy restaurants come up with such amazingly creative dishes (like Peter Gillmore’s snow egg)? It’s because they train hard for years to know the basics and then break all the rules they were taught so they can make something memorable.
So really, if you have aspirations of being a celebrity chef, or you just want to cook within your means but with some flair and flavour then you need to become both a smart and a creative cook.
Will it be hard? It only depends on what level of cook you want to become. Train harder to be the expert or just train as needed to keep the family happy. I for one won’t ever be a celebrity chef, but my husband sure does love my meals, and that’s the level of skill I’m happy with. If I can create great meals but I’m smart about it, then I’m happy knowing I’ve achieved a few goals.
Don’t you want to hit a few goals too? If so, hit the start here option above and get informed now.
So which kind of cook do you think you are? What do you want to be in future? Let me know in the comments.