10 Ways to up your food game.

I have people ask me all the time how I make such cool things, or create such beautiful dishes.  {They also ask how I got so good looking at witty… no actually they don’t but a lady can dream.}  So I decided to give you some solid tips to kick your food game up a gear.  Not just your cooking, but how you display it.  Because let’s be real, your Instagram popularity has a serious impact on your emotional state of mind.    Let’s get stuck in!

 1 ) Keep it SIMPLE.

This is the tip everyone hates, so we are starting here.  Yes simple is best.  One of the simplest ingredients that get overlooked are Salt and Pepper.  The simple use of seasoning can take your dish from good to great.  Some of the best dishes I have ever made were dead simple and just let the beautiful ingredients shine…. This leads me to the next tip.

Tomatoes, basil, and buffalo mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and salt and Pepper.  Simple, yet perfect.
Tomatoes, basil, and buffalo mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and salt and Pepper. Simple, yet perfect.

 2 ) Use high quality ingredients.

If you start with good quality ingredients that you know go together you have a good chance for a successful dish.  By good quality I mean tomatoes that are deep dark red, not pinkish white, cheese from the “fancy display” at the deli not the blocks of processed milk product that is stored beside the margarine in the dairy isle.  A crusty loaf from a bakery, actual cobs of fresh corn, not a bag of frozen green giant brand.  {Ingredients are like men, start with one that has great moral fibre, a wonderful sense of humour, and is loyal and you will end up with an excellent life partner.  Choose one for the rocking abs and party boy ways and things may end up differently.  Like Judge Judy says “Beauty is fleeting, but stupid is forever.”}

Ripe juicy tomatoes.
Ripe juicy tomatoes.

 3 ) Learn the basics.

When you see a culinary master at work and you think “How can they possibly know how to make EVERY dish out there?”  They don’t.  They know the basic techniques of cooking and apply those to every new dish or ingredient they encounter.  Once you have the basic skills mastered, then start to play with new flavours and ingredients.  Use YouTube as a resource here.  Look up how to poach, fry, sear, bake, grill.  Buy a basic simple cookbook and try those things first.  Most often when I see a recipe fail it is because the person making it tried to go to the fancy dish first and had no idea how to use the basic techniques.

Basic biscuit making.
Basic biscuit making.

 4 ) Buy this book.

The Flavour Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg “The Flavour Bible”  It has almost every ingredient out there and what to pair with it.  Use it.  Trust it.  It will not steer you wrong.  {No this is not sponsored I just love this book!}

 5 ) Pinterest…

Get your inspiration from Pinterest, but not your recipes.  Pinterest is FULL of awful recipes that make my toes curl.  If it says “no bake” or has oreo crumbs or cool whip in the ingredients list please don’t make it.  You can do better!

Just don't.  OK?
Just don’t. OK?

 6 ) Inspiration!

So if you want some seriously sexy food porn inspiration where should you look?  Instagram.  There are some seriously cool chefs on Instagram that make drool worthy dishes that you can use to spark a faire anytime!  Who do I suggest following? Dave Bohati @chefbohati a very cool chef I used to work for, Les Folies Burgers @lesfoliesburgers  a lovely and dear friend running the world’s coolest food truck in Paris, and Tivoli Road Bakery @tivoliroadbakery a very trendy bakery from Melbourne that I follow and need to some day visit!

7 ) Give it height.

When you are plating your new creation that you used your new skills to execute and your new inspiration to dream up, plate it like a pro.  Clean simple lines, splashes of colour and height are the plating golden rules.   Pile your pasta high and garnish it with a few leaves of the herbs you used to make it, lean your asparagus high on the sirloin you just grilled, or pile a bunch of the sweet little pastries you just baked.  You use all of your senses when you eat and a beautiful plate just plain tastes better.

Pile your pasta high.

8 ) Hot food hot, cold food cold.

In culinary school we had an instructor named Chef Turner who would shout “Hot food hot, cold food cold!”  It was her mantra.  Make it yours.  If it is supposed to be hot, make sure it is, if it is supposed to be cold, make sure it isn’t lukewarm!  There is a reason you get your salad on a different plate, or even different course in a good restaurant.  Because no good chef would ever put a salad on a hot plate with a steaming chunk of prime rib and let the juices seep over to those crisp leaves.  {It’s making me cringe just thinking about it.}

 9 ) Zoom in.

When you are photographing your food for Instagram, or just to send to your friends to make them jealous, zoom in.  Make one key feature the focus. Especially if it a dish with not a lot of colour contrast or a lot of components.  Pick a perfect spot, zoom in and make some magic.

Let me see that cilantro nice and close baby.
Let me see that cilantro nice and close baby.

 10 ) Don’t be afraid to take risks.

Once you feel more comfortable cooking and creating, try something new!  The worst that could happen is it sucks and you try again tomorrow.  No great chef ever got to be a celebrated culinary daredevil from playing it safe.  So get out there, try something new and tag me in your creations, I would love to see them!

-Stephanie

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