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Here's the Technique that French Chefs Use to Take the Stress Out of Cooking

5 simple steps to a more zen kitchen experience


I can’t count the number of times I’ve started a recipe, only to find that I’m missing a key ingredient. Or ran around the kitchen, searching for this one utensil that finally turns up in the bottom of the sink.

Not only is this exhausting, it often results in burnt food!


However, I recently learned about this set of techniques, and let me tell you: they work.




What is mis en place and how is going to bring peace to your kitchen?


Mis en place is the system French chef’s (and enlightened home cooks) use to get themselves organized before the first ingredient hits the pan. It means ‘everything in it’s place’ and follows these five steps:


  1. Read the entire recipe

  2. Prepare the work space

  3. Prepare the equipment

  4. Gather ingredients

  5. Prepare ingredients and place in bowls


This system will keep you organized during cooking, help you manage distractions (looking at you, kiddos), and if you cover and store the prepped ingredients, can be done well before you actually start cooking.


And plus, those bowls of prepared ingredients make a nice picture on Instagram!





Check out the steps in detail below:



The 5 Steps of Mis En Place


1. Read the Entire Recipe – it might sound like a no-brainer, but carefully reviewing the recipe is an essential part of the process. You want to find out:

  • What utensils, cookware, and appliances you’ll be using

  • Which ingredients you’ll need

  • When you’ll be using those ingredients in the process

  • How those ingredients need to be prepped.


2. Prepare Your Work Space – my work space consists of three things:

  • Counter-space for cutting

  • Counter-space by the stove

  • The sink

An empty sink makes dishes go a whole lot faster, because you an always find a pocket of time to rinse off the dishes that you’re done with, before they become hard to clean.


3. Prepare The Equipment – take out all the utensils and cookware you’ll need, and place them in the appropriate work spaces. For example, if I’m making Philly Cheese Casserole, I put my frying pan and pot directly onto the stove, and my casserole dish near the oven.

4. Gather Ingredients – take out all of the ingredients the recipe calls for, including sauces and spices. This when you’ll find out if you’re missing anything, without already being committed to the recipe.

5. Prep All Ingredients and Place in Bowls – this final step focuses on the following:

  • Cutting your vegetables down to size.

  • Cutting your meat down to size.

  • Portioning any dry ingredients, such as pasta, rice, and spices.

  • Portioning any liquid ingredients, like soy sauce, olive oil, and water for boiling.

Placing these ingredients in bowls does create extra dishes, but it also gives you the means to store all your prepped ingredients in the fridge, for later use. I like to combine my spices all in one bowl, and combine the vegetables that go into the pan together in separate bowls, just to cut down on dishes. But if you’re taking photos of the finished product, having all those ingredients in separate bowls makes for a nice complimentary picture!



Whether you’re already experiencing the Joy of Cooking or your process reminds you more of Hell’s Kitchen, the art of mis en place will make cooking a lot more manageable.

Be sure to let us know how it went next time you pop into Real Food!

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