Kitchen Terms that Might Change Your Life

One of my daughters and I spend the majority of our time cooking together. We’re always in the kitchen prepping complicated recipes or challenging ourselves with a new food project (like sushi!). We love to use the French terms for our cooking space. I’ll call out, “OK! Mise en place!”

Mise en place: It means “everything in place.” We love to have all our ingredients prepared and all our cooking utensils and pans out and ready. We keep everything so tidy and organized. The actual cooking or baking part seems like we’re on a cooking show where you just reach over and the little bowl of measured out chopped cilantro is right there. I’m learning to apply mise en place to everything–my writing area, my teaching, my chores. You spend half the time setting up the thing you’re going to do with everything you’ll need, and it makes the actual doing of it so fun and easy.

Sous chef: The second in command in the kitchen. This chef reports to the Executive Chef. In our kitchen, the sous chef is the one who makes the Executive Chef a success. This person hovers around, helps with anything and everything, and tidies up to make the Executive Chef free to create and become the artist of the kitchen. But you have to know who you are and what your role is. Before we begin a cooking day, we decide who is the Executive Chef and who is the Sous Chef. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s her. I’m learning that in life, I can serve in either role with joy. The Sous Chef makes others a success and can step in at any time to take over as needed. It’s fun to be that person sometimes.

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