As a traveling man, I eat at lots of restaurants. I usually eat at great restaurants and really enjoy the fresh taste, the savory flavor, and the satisfying feeling of having a great restaurant meal.
I also really enjoy cooking for my family when I’m at home. Sometimes I want to re-create that great restaurant meal for my family so they can enjoy it as much as I did.
Along the way I’ve learned a few secrets by watching the restaurant chefs prepare their meals in the now popular open kitchen and I want to pass along to you some of the things that I discovered.
USE THE BEST POSSIBLE INGREDIENTS
Really good restaurants don’t skimp on ingredient quality. They find the freshest vegetables, the best quality meats, the most pungent spices, and the best cooking oils. They have access to better meet and produce than the average consumer, and it shows in the flavor of their dishes.
Yet you can still get very high quality ingredients for your meals by shopping at grocery store such as Whole Foods and other high-end markets. An even better option is to shop at farmers markets or to make friends with local farmers who can supply you with their best produce.
Prepare your meal within a day or so of getting your ingredients to keep that intense, fresh flavor.
USE THE RIGHT COOKING PANS
You’ll notice that restaurant chefs are using large, heavy pans that don’t have a nonstick coating. You can get these pans from warehouse club such as Sam’s or Costco for very little money. These pans develop bits of cooked food that stick to them during the cooking process that are major contributors to the savory flavor of the food that they prepare. Yet they don’t burn the food when cooking over high heat.
You just can’t get the same flavor from nonstick pans. Besides nonstick pans can’t take the high heat required to develop these delicious tastes. Throw out those cheap pans you picked up at the discount store and get some commercial grade pans.
When it comes to clean up, just use a coarse copper scrubber and the pan cleans right up. I think it’s totally worth the clean-up effort to get the restaurant flavor from these types of pans.
ALWAYS BE SEASONING
Have you ever noticed that great restaurant food doesn’t need for you to add salt and pepper? It’s perfectly seasoned and ready to eat.
That’s because restaurant chefs are always adding seasonings at every stage of the meal preparation. They’re adding salt and pepper to the sautéed vegetables. They’re adding a splash of wine before they add additional ingredients. They’re adding herbs and spices at the conclusion of cooking. They adjust the salt and pepper before putting on the plate. They’re tossing on fresh bits of garnish at add that extra special flavor before they serve it.
Along the way they are tasting the food with a clean spoon to make sure that the seasoning is right.
One trick that I’ve learned is that in Italian restaurants, the chef often throws in a teaspoon of garlic butter in the final few moments of cooking to give it the yummy, pungent, savory flavor that stays fresh and really makes a powerful statement in your dish.
STEAL THE RESTAURANT RECIPES
Over time, I’ve gotten really good at deciphering the flavors of my favorite restaurant meals so that I can re-create them at home. If you really like a specific dish, ask the chef if he’ll give you the recipe. Some will. Some won’t. I’ll take what I can get.
While often there are restaurant recipes posted on the Internet, I found that they’re missing critical ingredients. Sometimes I’ll use them as a starting point, but often need to make adjustments to get the right restaurant food taste.
Better yet, you can buy a book of restaurant recipes that can help you avoid a lot of the guesswork. I recommend that you check out http://recipefromrestaurants.net. They have hundreds of proven recipes that taste just like the real deal.