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Keeping your cool in the kitchen

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

There is nothing worse than panicking whilst cooking – especially when cooking for other people. Take it from someone has had more meltdowns in the kitchen than 99 flakes have on Brighton seafront. My nerves got the better of me when I was first starting out as a budding young chef, so I know what it feels like to feel the fear in the kitchen. Thankfully though, you won’t be spending the next four hours in service cooking for 130 hungry diners under a demanding head chef. There is plenty of time and steps you can take to build your confidence leading up to that!

It can be just as daunting to cook for one person as a group of six or more. One of the best ways to reduce stress is to always be prepared and to remember than when entertaining or cooking for someone else, it’s about creating a calm and welcoming ambience and feeling positive about the food. If you’re stressed or anxious, your guests will sense that too. Even before you think about picking up a knife or a pan, pick up a pen and paper. These will be your best friends in the kitchen. Write down what you need to prepare and break down everything you need to do into steps. Is there anything you can get a head start on or prepare in advance?

For example, can you make the sauce or the garnishes before your guests arrive and then simply heat and serve? The more you can do in advance, the less time you have to spend in the kitchen when your guests arrive. This will keep you calmer and allow you to spend more time entertaining your guests and enjoying yourself, which is what it’s meant to be about, after all.

Too often, I see inexperienced cooks trying to bite off more than they can chew by attempting elaborate dishes that require a high level of skill and aren’t well suited to a dinner part set up. The results are nearly always a sub-par meal that caused you a lot of unnecessary stress and left your guests underwhelmed. It is so important to choose the right menu when entertaining, taking into account your level of experience, time and what your kitchen has to offer.

Often less is more, and it pays to concentrate on simple dishes executed well. These are much more likely to impress your guests and leave them with good memories of the amazing meal you prepared for them and the good time they had. Tasty sharing dishes can be a great way to eliminate the stress of

plating, making your life easier in the kitchen whilst creating a convivial atmosphere and bringing everyone together at the table.

Next time you’re hosting a dinner party, keep it simple, prepare in advance, and remember to enjoy yourself!

Chef Mattie


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