Ten Very Basic Kitchen Rules
|Bruce Bennett photo|
I’ve never been a big fan of most rules. In a perfect world, we only need one rule, and that is the rule of Love and Compassion for all beings, even the human ones. If we all followed this there would be no need for any other regulations. There would be no stealing, no causing bodily harm to others (or food poisoning) and we wouldn’t do anything to hurt anyone in any way. We would be so aware of our actions and how they affect others that we wouldn’t ever intentionally cause harm or loss to anyone. However, our world is not perfect, or at least we are not perfect, so we need some rules to remind us how to behave.
These basic rules for kitchens can apply in a home situation as well as in a commercial kitchen. The reasons we have them are mainly for safety…safety of the workers as well as the consumers. Another reason is economy. If there is a lot of waste or mistreatment of equipment the kitchen will mean a loss of money for whoever is paying the bills, and a kitchen can’t run without money.
1) Clean hands at all times. Everyone knows that they need to wash hands before cooking, especially after using the bathroom, coughing or sneezing or touching any part of the head or body. We also need to wash hands during cooking. Wash before touching any appliances, such as opening an oven or a cupboard or refrigerator. Keep it clean! A clean towel draped over your apron string at the waist is a big help for wet hands, but you still need to wash or keep changing the towel whenever it gets dirty. If you REALLY want to follow safe food practices like the professionals do use disposable gloves (changing them often) whenever you handle any food that will not be cooked before serving or if you need to use your hands to serve cooked food. This is standard practice in many kitchens and is the best way to avoid contamination, especially in a large kitchen where it is hard to keep an eye on everyone. Many cooks also like to use gloves when working with meat, fish or chicken, as they find it “yucky” to handle, and it just makes it easier to keep the hands clean.
2) NO finger tasting or tasting from the stirring spoon. Considerate cooks keep a stash of teaspoons handy for tasting and toss them in the sink after each taste.
3) Don’t use knives or other utensils for prying, opening or poking holes in anything. That’s why god invented Sears Craftsman tools and can openers.
4) Clean up your area between and after every task. Try to deal with fruits and vegetables before meats and seafood. Wash your knife and cutting board between tasks. Clean boards and knives with chlorine solution or other disinfectant after cutting any kind of meat . This prevents not only contamination, but also undesirable flavor crossover.
5) Always rotate. When you buy something new, store it behind the old stuff. It’s that simple.
6) Don’t serve anything that you wouldn’t eat yourself, with the exceptions of your own allergies or “food aversions”.
7) In a commercial kitchen everyone in the kitchen and dining room should taste everything at least once. They need to know what things are supposed to taste like and be able to make sincere recommendations to customers.
8) Don’t re-use anything that has been on a table previously, such as bread and butter, sauces in open dishes, serving utensils, etc…
9) Don’t send out any food that has not been tasted. Mistakes happen, and need to be caught before they hit the table.
10) Keep cold foods COLD and hot foods HOT. The temperature of a kitchen is a perfect place to breed nasty bacteria. Don’t leave anything sitting out if it won’t be used immediately.