how to prep for dinner

When I first met Danny, I liked being in the kitchen. Cooking soothed me. I found, increasingly, that I would rather stir at the stove than put pen to papers to grade them. The first year I was gluten-free, I started to find my rhythm.

However, I still wasn’t confident in the kitchen. Each meal needed a big rev-up of energy before I could begin. And mostly, I turned on the stove and then started chopping. I burned quite a bit of garlic that year.

Danny tells me now that when he watched me cook, those first few months, I made him pretty nervous.

You see, chefs never cook that way. Chefs show up to dinner service prepared. They’ve been chopping and stirring and simmering and readying for hours. On the line, they simply cook.

Everything grew easier when Danny taught me how to set up my mise en place before cooking. We thought you might like to see the difference between a dish cooked in haste and frantic looking and one cooked with calm.

Mise en Place from Daniel Ahern on Vimeo.

27 comments on “how to prep for dinner

  1. jenn

    learning to follow mise en place changed my cooking life. it has made my cooking/baking much less frantic and much cleaner 😉

  2. jacquelyn

    That explains so much of the last 10 years of meals I’ve been making. When I’m rushed dinner = bad. When I take my time dinner = good. I learned more from that little home video that I did in my entire childhood watching my mother (sorry mom). Thanks for sharing.

  3. Gabby @ Gabby's Gluten-Free

    Love this! My husband works in the restaurant industry and went through culinary school so when I used to cook for him, he had the same nervousness and would be amazed at my lack of mise. Now, I can’t cook without my mise en place!

  4. Martha

    I love your site! I hope it’s ok that I posted a link on my blog to yours.. I love the things you and Danny do and want others to know about you.. Others in my family are working on being gluten free.. I think I should too and it’s wonderful to be able to read your site and all the recipes and tips.. Thank you!

  5. Jessi

    I definitely second everyone else’s comments about the usefulness of a mise en place; but can I just also add that Danny is PRO at chopping onions. I reckon that would make a pretty good video – they just make me cry!

  6. Allison

    Thank you!! That was awesome. I feel like i learned four or five different things from watching that one video.

  7. Kate

    Thank you for the entertaining reminder to always be ready before cooking! Half the time I forget to do my mise; I always end up rushed and disappointed in the final product. Now, if I could just get the hang of timing different dishes…

  8. Gail

    I can tell you about one dog who would turn up her nose and walk away from burned garlic & onion.
    Well done, you two!!!

  9. Malisams

    An ex-boyfriend of mine who was a phenom in the kitchen taught me about mise en place, which also included making sure the kitchen was clean enough not to get in the way of the cooking. Cooking became calming and almost meditative as a result, and my kitchen stays cleaner in general since because it starts clean, I’m more inclined to keep it that way as I cook.

  10. InTolerant Chef

    I always have myself set up with my piles/ bowls of ingredients all laid out too, and it DOES make me nervous when I see others running around all over the place 🙂
    Great segment, and a skill everyone certainly needs to master!

  11. Coach Laura

    Shauna, congratulations on your new house. I’m looking forward to hearing about yours and Danny’s new project.

    One time a while back, you said that you were going to master a “dutch baby” pancake or puffy pancake. Did you ever try? Is it going to be in your new book? I have been trying for a while but haven’t succeeded. I do make pretty good Yorkshire Pudding, which is similar, but while it tastes good it’s not really very puffy and is a bit flat.

  12. Shannon G.

    I’ve been following for a couple months now, but this is my first time commenting. I’m loving all of the videos y’all are posting! This one is so, so helpful! I’ve been gluten free going on three years now due to gluten intolerance, and I’m so thankful I found your blog. I love your outlook on life, your uplifting and encouraging posts, your charm, and your love for food– the right food, sans gluten 🙂 Thanks, again!

  13. Marla

    You two are awesome. Thank you so much for being an inspiration to COOK! You are appreciated.

  14. Kate

    Impressed by how often he was wiping down the stove! I just leave all the oil that spits out until I’m done, but I like the way he did it, seems more…correct?

    1. shauna

      It’s funny. I pointed that out to him after we finished and he wasn’t even aware he was doing it. Habit.

  15. Elizabeth

    Thank you for the fun and helpful video. I will attempt to change my ways now, though it will be hard because if everyone smells the onions and garlic burning, I mean cooking, then they think dinner will be coming soon and won’t storm the kitchen. But, I see the sanity and sense in having everything prepped first, so I will try!
    Wife of the electrical/software engineer and Mommy to the Six Sibs, ages three to 15, one with type-1 diabetes and one with celiac and they all eat kale!
    Thank you again, and also for the oatmeal muffin recipe. It has become a favorite and a staple around here (and yes, we have made oatmeal just for the recipe!). I combined your recipe and the original. Thank you!!

  16. Mary@FitandFed

    Thanks, this is an area I where I could really improve. It would make both the cooking experience and the post-meal cleanup much easier. Seems to me that the process could apply to my desk as well– clean it first, then pay bills?

  17. Kiki

    I absolutely love you and Danny together! You are so fun and playful with each other! He is so cute to watch! I really loved how “clean” he was even while cooking! Your videos always leave me smiling. I wish you two had a regular show.

  18. Hollie

    Thanks for the video! A chef friend of mine recently gave me a cooking lesson and the first thing she taught me was mis en place. I just looked at her. Are you crazy? ALL THOSE DISHES!

    BUT, all those dishes mean two things. The first, that I no longer forget whether I put something in the pot or mixing bowl, and the second, that I can now buy those cute little multi-colored prep bowls without a trace of guilt.

    Now if I could just chop an onion as fast as the chef does in the video, I’d be golden.

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